The night of my capstone dinner was exciting and surreal. As I stood in my fully decorated dining room, just before the doors opened for service, I had tears in my eyes. I felt extremely proud to see all my hard work from the past four years come together.

I thought back to freshman year, and how I almost didn’t come to school. My upbringing was very difficult. My mom and my five younger siblings and I moved all the time; sometimes we didn’t know where our next meal was coming from and a few times we were even homeless. I knew that if one day I wanted to go to college the only way I’d be able to afford it was through a scholarship. After visiting Paul Smith’s College I fell in love with it, and I knew this was the place for me. I was fortunate enough to receive the William F. Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship. Despite receiving this amazing scholarship, I had reservations about going away to college and I almost turned it down. I felt guilty about leaving my siblings; I didn’t think it was fair for me to be able to live a better life and enjoy new experiences while they stayed behind. I thought long and hard about it, and realized that going to school was the right decision. I would be setting a great example for my siblings. Every time I talk to them I remind them how important it is to keep their grades up, so that when it’s their turn to go to college they’ll be fortunate to receive scholarships too. I also remind them that with hard work and determination they’ll be led down the right path and they will be successful at whatever they put their minds too.

My capstone dinner went better than the way I envisioned it would. I’m so proud of myself. I now feel ready to walk across that stage in May and receive my degree. I am very optimistic about the future. I will forever be grateful for my Paul Smith’s College experience.


Photo 1Tyema R. Stephens.

From Middletown NY. Currently Residing in Skaneateles NY.


Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management, with a Business Minor.