Mullins overcomes obstacles on way to degree
The normal journey to a
college degree takes four years, but a series of events caused Kimberly Denise
Marshall Mullins to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences
three decades after she graduated high school.
Her story is one of
determination, dedication and strength. It began after high school when she
attended Mountain Empire Community College and then transferred to what was
then Clinch Valley College in the 1980s. She also met and married Roderick
Mullins and the couple started a family.
She worked at her family’s
jewelry store for several years repairing jewelry and completing other tasks,
but she kept her college dreams in mind. When the jewelry store closed, she
began work as a Standards of Learning aid with Wise County Public Schools, and
later as a special education paraprofessional.
“It made me strongly think
about going back to school,” she said. “I was very indecisive, but Roderick told
me that if I didn’t do it now I would never do it.”
She returned as a part time
student to what was now UVa-Wise. She stayed part time until the couple’s son,
Andrew, graduated high school. She gladly became a full time student, but
another obstacle popped up.
Mullins was diagnosed with
breast cancer in the spring semester of 2010. It was a very aggressive form of
cancer, but she opted on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. College
would have to wait again as the Wise resident and her family worked together
to get her through the health crisis.
As she took some time to
recover and heal, Mullins spoke with Professor Jewell Askins in the education
department. Askins and Mullins chatted about the education program and
elementary education in particular.
“It sounded like a great
idea,” Mullins said. “The following spring I did a class observation and I
loved it. I hope to teach upper elementary math, and I want to get an
endorsement in middle school sciences.”
It has been a long 30 years,
but Mullins has earned her degree she will receive on Commencement this Saturday.
“My husband has been very supportive of me,” she said. “And if I have inspired others with my story, then it was all for the good.”