The class of 2020 has had to deal with challenges that no one else before them has ever had to deal with. To say their last year was a walk in the park or one filled with happy memories would be a lie.
But despite the unusual circumstances, they powered through the end of the school year and graduated during a global pandemic.
While every student’s journey is unique and inspiring, Jules Patrice Means might leave you feeling a little extra inspired.
Means, who requested her classmates and professors call her Ms. Jules, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in sociology at the age of 67.
Means overcame a lot to earn her degree and she has no plans of stopping.
Not only does she fully intend on walking across a stage to receive her diploma, but she wants to apply for grad school so she can earn her Master of Social Welfare degree.
“It’s never too late to achieve your aspirations in life,” she told UC Berkeley in a release.
Means didn’t always have the confidence she possesses now. When she was growing up in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s, her classmates teased her.
“I went home and told my mother, ‘I wish I was white. I don’t want to be negro,’ which was a word we used in that time period.”
Taking the advice of her mother, she held her head high.
During her teens, she lived with her father for some time, but when she became pregnant he told her to go back to her mother. Instead, she went to live with her boyfriend and felt pressured to marry him.
“I felt like I had to get married, so we did, at city hall, before the baby was born, so no one would say anything.”
Means eventually graduated high school in 1971, the same year her first child was born. She went on to work several jobs, expanded her family, and married a second time.
In 2010, she suffered a stroke. She suffered another one in 2014. This time it affected her entire left side and she had to go to rehab to learn how to walk again.
“Do you know how depressed a person can be after a stroke? I felt almost suicidal.”
While looking for a yoga class to strengthen her muscles, she spotted a course catalog for a community college. And as the saying goes, the rest was history.
The 67-year-old plans to become a counselor and wants to work minority communities with low-income earners.
“Education is the key to unlocking the doors that prevent people from reaching their goals,” she said. “If I can do it, they can, too.”
Congratulations, Ms. Jules! You are an incredible inspiration. Keep on working towards your dream.
Share this to send your congratulations and well wishes to Ms. Jules.