It has been said that college isn’t for everyone, which can serve as reassurance for teenagers who feel the pressure to make higher education the immediate next step after graduating from high school. For Lauren Evans from Detroit, pursuing college wasn’t something she was sure she wanted to do. The lack of motivation in high school left her with a 1.5 GPA and no prospects for a university education.
“My parents were in the middle of a divorce when I was in eighth grade, so I got tied up in that and stopped focusing on school,” Evans tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Entering high school and taking it as a joke, I knew my only remedy was to just to be with my friends, and you’re just kind of winging it at that point.”
But when Evans’s mother gave her the opportunity to take some time off after graduating high school and work instead, the teen’s hiatus lasted only a year before she decided she was ready for college.
“I went to North Carolina, where I had a great-aunt who I hadn’t seen in years,” she says. “At the time, I was going out of town to go to community college, which made me embarrassed. Needless to say, I kept going.”
Through her time at a community college in North Carolina, Evans says that she became inspired being part of the local culture away from home. This motivated her not only to do well in school but also to pursue any opportunity that would allow her to make up for lost time in high school. Soon enough, she met her boyfriend Jeremy, who would play a defining role in her life.
“We just connected,” Evans says about herself and Jeremy. “We had an excellent vibe. It was my first adult relationship. We were together for around two years, when I went out of town for Thanksgiving. I was on the phone with him saying, ‘See you tomorrow,’ and tomorrow never came.”
Jeremy was shot in the home that they shared in North Carolina, leaving the then-21-year-old Evans reeling from the loss of the person she called her best friend. The case remains unsolved, and the only information provided to her from the homicide detective was that Jeremy’s death was “instant.”
“I didn’t know anything else,” she recalls. “I had just that [information] when I was 21. I’m 26 years old [now], and I still don’t have the answer.”
However, from that trying time, she learned that she had to continue pursuing a higher education and a life for herself with a fulfilling career, since Jeremy wasn’t able to do so himself. Jeremy was just 25 at the time he was killed and hadn’t even graduated high school, which Evans says drove him to encourage her through her studies.
“This is for me and him right now because he’s my angel,” she said to herself at the time, “and now I’ve got to get a degree for me and my angel.”
After three years at community college, Evans began applying to various out-of-state universities, and received multiple acceptances. She reflects on the opportunity to choose a school in comparison to having no options following high school and calls it a privilege.
Ultimately the young woman moved to Baton Rogue, La., to attend Louisiana State University, where more obstacles would come her way. Yet Evans knew that after facing the death of her boyfriend, nothing could challenge her more than what she’d already been through.
“When I went to college, I dealt with the issues of college that everybody forgets to tell you. It was a struggle within itself,” Evans admits. “And the closer I got, it was like the most hurdles would come. I just continued to go. I had to load up on classes. I worked two jobs. Anything I had to do at that point, I was going to make it to the end.”
In August 2017, Evans ended up graduating with a degree in child and family studies, which she is planning to use when she pursues law school in the near future. In an effort to help others achieve goals that they never dreamed of achieving, the 26-year-old thinks she’s the perfect fit.
“During the process of going to school, going through life, taking a break, and sometimes taking the longer route, I found my purpose within all of that,” she says. “Before that, I just knew college was something I was supposed to do because everyone else was doing it. I didn’t know Lauren’s way.”
After sharing her story in an Instagram post, Evans is already inspiring followers and others who come across her page.
“We don’t like to share our scars,” Evans says. But luckily she did.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• After losing both parents before she was 19, this young woman shares her college graduation with them
• Mother of 5 proudly poses with children in law school graduation photos: ‘We did it’
• Viral photo of Afghan mother caring for her baby while taking a college exam is so inspiring