HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Three Houston sisters will be among the 3,700 graduates getting their degree from the University of Houston-Downtown on Dec. 19, and they say their story is a testament to resiliency and teamwork.
The Lampkin sisters range in age from 36 to 50, and all of them started college years ago.
But they have had to juggle raising their children, moving out of state, and working full-time, which made it hard to stay enrolled in college. Now, they'll finally graduate with their undergraduate degree, albeit virtually.
Zanda Lampkin was laid off from her long-time job due to the pandemic right as she was celebrating her 50th birthday. She said she realized it was an opportunity to finish her education. Now, she's pursuing non-profit business management. The Lampkins' parents are overjoyed to see all three of the women graduate.
"I think we all wanted to go back to school, but it was always some sort of circumstance," said Zanda. "It was either our job, or it was financial, and we'd be at the grocery store and [our mom would] be like, 'Can you get some eggs? When are y'all going back to school?' She would just throw it in there.'"
For 43-year-old Erneka Lampkin, it was her son's autism diagnosis that inspired her to finish her degree. Watching the 9-year-old has prompted her to study special education now.
"It was a lot, but really he just motivated me," she said. "Of course, I was like, 'Oh God this is hard. We have to do all these papers,' but I never thought that I was going to stop. I was going to finish. I was laser-focused."
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Tiffany Lampkin is raising a 6-year-old and one-year-old. She recently moved back to Houston from Atlanta.
There has been a lot to manage, but she said her sisters provided a shoulder to cry on when times were tough. She is also pursuing a teacher certification.
"It would have been easy for us to be like, 'It's just too much. I can't,'" said Tiffany. "But we just all three stuck with it."
The trio hopes others will be inspired by their resiliency. All three graduated with an interdisciplinary studies degree.