Experiencing tough times growing up shouldn’t destine us for a future of failure. In fact, it can strengthen us in ways we are not aware of and prepare us for the challenges ahead. One of my proudest moments was hearing my name called at Midwestern State University in 2010 to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. As I scanned the room, I locked eyes with my mom, tears of joy streaming down her face, I also felt emotional. I’m usually calm and reserved, however, the feeling that I had accomplished something not only for myself, but my mom and my kids made the occasion unforgettable.
While that moment was celebratory, the challenges prior to that point were extraordinary. Before attending MSU, I applied for various scholarships through the ministry and was unsuccessful in securing one. Instead of letting the rejections extinguish my dream, I decided to be strategic. I purchased a piece of land and a couple years later used it as security to get a student loan. I thought getting to school was my steepest hurdle, but I was severely mistaken. After my first two weeks of school, I was so overwhelmed and felt so out of place. I was ready to return home. I started with zero credits. Other students from Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Antigua etc. started with as much as 50 and 60 credits transferred from local institutions they attended before travelling to MSU. I felt as though I would never graduate in addition to feeling out of place because I was older than the majority of students. In probably the most influential and calming one-to-one conversation I’ve had with a mentor, Dr. Randy Glean (Director of International Students at Midwestern State University) said “Kevaughan, you are impeccable for this program and you will excel. Just give it a year and let’s have this conversation the same time next year”. It’s crazy the difference a year makes. When we had our follow-up conversation a year later, I had amassed 48 credits in one year and commenced upper level classes, while various students who had numerous credits transferred were not yet able to begin upper level classes. The rest, as they say, is history. I graduated in two and a half years with a 3.89 GPA and also served as student government president following in the footsteps of legends such as Carlos Thomas.
While graduating was a major achievement, my pride and passion is being an entrepreneur. The Shoe Source (retail store located on Ben Jones Street in Grenville) has served the community for almost 11 years. We specialize in name brand shoes and clothing for kids and adults. I started The Shoe Source in 2005, and now because I reside overseas, my mom runs the store. The immensely gratifying aspect of the business for me is the ability to provide a source of employment and empowerment to the woman that not only gave me life but has been my number 1 supporter and cheerleader.
To those trying to find their way in life, remember the number one priority is to rid yourself of negativity and self-doubt. Dare to believe in yourself and build a network of people that support your vision and genuinely desire to see you succeed. We all get the same 24 hours a day, we all have a story; we all have faced disappointment and experienced setbacks. There are numerous excuses we can make for not achieving our full potential, but the moment we decide to forget the excuses and focus on the positive aspects of our lives; opportunities present themselves to us because now we can visualize the possible favorable outcomes instead of the disappointments. I’ve failed countless more times than I have succeeded, however, I will never stop trying. Being an example to the people that love and support me keeps me motivated. I am Kevaughn Graham a proud father, professional, and entrepreneur and #IamGrenadian.