Woman Battles Adversities, Receives College Degree 30 Years Later

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Woman Battles Adversities, Receives College Degree 30 Years Later

CREATED May 12, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A woman has beaten the odds and graduated from college - a degree nearly 30 years in the making. 

Karen Munoz's journey to walk across the stage at Tennessee State University began in 1983. At the time, she was a determined architectural engineering major, but after three years of hard work, she walked away from school. She never gave up on her goal, though. 

“My mother and father always emphasized to me you need a college education you need a college education and that stuck with me,” she explained.

Munoz ended up getting a job with Metro Nashville Public Schools and then, the Transportation Department.

“I thought I was at a stopping point I thought that being a secretary bookkeeper was the only thing I could do since I had no way out,” Munoz added.

She didn’t realize it at the time, but life was about to get much worse. First, she was injured in a supply closet at work. A closet door swung open and crushed her tailbone and several vertebrae in her neck.

“I’m not letting nuts, screws bolts titanium hold me back,” she said.

Shortly after, she was involved in a serious car accident and lost her job - but in the face of adversity, she found the courage to leave her abusive marriage and decided to apply for financial aid at TSU.

Not even the constant pain she experiences every day held her back. Now, she wants to lead others by finishing what she started.

“If by changing one person, one attitude makes a chain effect - then one will change two,” she said.

Munoz has since remarried and she and her husband plan to use her business administration degree to open a prep school in his home country of El Salvador, called Summers International Integration College of Excellence.