Black Woman’s Academic Comeback Has Twitter Overwhelmed With Inspiration

Ja’Andra Imani Wheeler (@Jwheeel/Twitter)

A 22-year-old Black woman is garnering major accolades on social media after sharing her inspiring academic comeback story following her mother’s untimely death.

Ja’Andra Imani Wheeler, who graduated from Savannah State University in December, told Buzzfeed News that in her sophomore year at the historically Black school, her mother suddenly died from sarcoidosis, an incurable but treatable disease in which tiny collections of inflammatory cells grow on different parts of the body.

“My mother really instilled the importance of education within me, holding a master’s in education herself,” Wheeler said. “With her passing, I began to lose sight of the bigger picture.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Wheeler’s GPA plunged to 1.4. But, the Africana studies major persevered. Using money from a partial school loan and an off-campus job, Wheeler attended summer school, retaking — and passing — all the classes she’d failed. She credits good friends and J. Cole’s music with helping her not only survive but thrive.

Wheeler shared her journey on Twitter five days after graduation, posting a screenshot of her grades — which included four F’s — and also revealing that she had received a full-ride scholarship to pursue her master’s degree.

Wheeler tweeted that she’s applied to the University at Albany, SUNY and Morgan State University but that her top choice is Howard University. She told BuzzFeed News she plans to eventually get her Ph.D. and hopes to one day become a professor.

Twitter was quick to praise Wheeler for her incredible achievement.

@HonyCornBread appreciated Wheeler’s candidness.

@goeddie1990 shared some words of encouragement.

Queen Lex encouraged Wheeler to keep up the hard work.

Ashli Denise saw Wheeler’s story as something to look up to.

As for anyone else who is struggling to succeed — at anything — in the face of personal tragedy, Wheeler said they should “take care of your mental health” and “surround yourself with people who create safe spaces and offer healthy relationships.”

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