Shanna Douglas, Graduate
Tribal member and Choctaw Nation associate Shanna Douglas likes a challenge. From an early age, Shanna knew that learning was her passion, and her parents encouraged her curiosity and desire to explore new ideas.
“My parents taught me that education can’t ever be taken away and that learning is important,” said Shanna.
After high school, Shanna began college. But life can be unpredictable; it has a way of diverting our paths. Shanna’s plans changed when her children were born, and she put her education on hold to be a mother.
Years later, with her son in high school and her daughter eight years younger, Shanna faced challenges as a young single mother, but she never lost sight of her passion for learning. As a way to motivate her son, she promised to finish her bachelor’s degree if he did all his schoolwork and got good grades.
Shanna’s promise to her son was also motivating for her. “Whenever we become comfortable in our situation, we become complacent, and complacent is something I never want to be,” she said. She admits that she is a competitive person, so the challenge was just as motivational for her. She wasn’t competing against her son, however. Shanna was competing against Shanna, and succeeding meant she could be a better version of herself.
"Overcoming challenges is a mindset. It has to do with resiliency and perseverance and a lot to do with your circle of people and those who encourage you."
Raising two children who are active in sports and school activities can make studying for college classes difficult for anyone. Add to that the extra challenge of caring for parents who are ill, and the stress compounds. But Shanna credits a strong support system for her success. Sometimes study time had to fall between games, but no matter how much her family depended on her, they always gave her the time she needed to do homework.
Shanna graduated with her bachelor’s degree in business management in May 2011, the same month her son earned his high school diploma. The two celebrated their accomplishments together.
She began working on her master’s degree in 2014, but when her parents’ health further declined, she once again paused her studies to be a caregiver for them.
When her parents passed away, Shanna was left with an empty house. She had always had something to take care of, but with her children grown and her parents gone, she needed something to keep her occupied and help with her grief. She decided to return to school.
Staying focused on the future helped Shanna achieve her long-time goal of finishing her MBA in management. No matter the obstacles and challenges, she never lost sight of her objective. Using resources from the Choctaw Nation’s Higher Education Department and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Shanna was finally able to graduate with her master’s degree in business from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Shanna’s advice to anyone who has a dream to finish school is to keep going.
"The challenge you face today, when you look back in a year...it will seem small once you overcome it. When you’re in it, you can’t see past it, but you have to keep moving forward, whatever that takes."
“My challenge and someone else’s challenge may be the same, but we may not get through it the same way. We may not get through it even in the same time frame. But it is something we can do if we continue to press forward.”
For more information visit the Choctaw Nation’s higher education resources.
Together, We're More
More Than a Graduate
Pursuing a dream takes time, hard work, and perseverance. In this video, tribal member and Choctaw Nation associate Shanna Douglas tells the story of her educational journey.