Leading by Example
Cherelda Bell earns two degrees while teaching her daughters about perseverance
Success can be contagious. Just ask Cherelda Bell.
The mother of three spent six long years working toward commencement at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®). She studied nights. She studied weekends. She studied whenever she found a rare free moment.
And as Bell pushed herself to achieve academically, she watched as her daughters — Ja’Meria, 14; Ja’Sha, 10; and Ja’Zonna, 9 — did the same.
“Tri-C didn’t just help me,” the 34-year-old Cleveland resident said. “It helped my whole family.”
Bell will graduate from the College in May with two degrees — an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing and an Associate of Arts. She intends to continue her education at Cleveland State University through the RN-to-BSN program between Tri-C and CSU.
That future once seemed unattainable. Bell struggled in her first attempt at college in 2004 and 2005, failing more classes than she passed. She left school and entered the workforce to support her first child.
Years quickly passed as daily demands dominated Bell’s time. When she paused long enough to examine her life, she saw little prospect of career advancement, higher earnings or a better future.
To change that, Bell signed up for one course — Beginning Algebra — at Tri-C’s Eastern Campus. “I owed it to myself, to my daughters, to give it another try,” she said.
Bell rebuilt her GPA class by class, semester by semester. She gradually increased her course load over the next few years and enrolled as a full-time student after being laid off from her job in 2015.
Multiple scholarships followed as Bell achieved in the classroom. That led to her selection as a Mandel Scholar and Eastern Campus Student of the Year.
As Bell poured herself into her studies, she said that her daughters followed her example. Homework sessions became a family affair. Academics turned into a household priority. Success became the norm.
“I didn’t do all of this just for myself,” Bell said. “Being a mother means being a role model. I’m developing my girls. I wanted them to see what is possible if you keep working and moving forward.”
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of more than 3,000 graduates on May 17 at Spring Commencement. Check our News and Events page throughout the month as we highlight members of the Class of 2018.
May 02, 2018
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org