Graduate Ebony Spells defies the odds

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Ebony Spells ('19)

Ebony Spells began her journey at UNT with one goal in mind: to be the first grandchild in her family to earn a college degree. She was set on becoming an entrepreneurial major with nothing but high hopes in her future, but the journey of heartache she faced shortly thereafter could never have been predicted.

During (what she thought was) her final year at UNT, Spells discovered she was pregnant. Despite this unexpected hurdle, however, she was determined to graduate and make her grandparents proud.

Finishing up her last courses, ready and on track to graduate at 29 weeks pregnant, complications arose and Spells found herself, and her prematurely born child, hospitalized. Her newborn remained in the NICU for three months, and Spells knew then that her dream of graduating would be put on hold.

The overwhelming air of obstacles she was facing, while simultaneously working to finish the classes she already started, began to get thicker. Continued setbacks pushed her graduation deadline beyond the following spring semester and into the summer. She soon discovered that she would have only four weeks to retake her courses.

Impossible to some, Spells knew no other option than perseverance—and by the end of summer 2019; she finally completed her degree requirements.

“It felt amazing to finally graduate,” said Spells. “I’m particularly grateful for the patience shown by the college’s faculty and staff.” More specifically, Spells recalled the tremendous support she received from Dr. Terry Pohlen and Ms. Sue Kangas during her time of need, and described them and their patience as being a “lifesaver”.

Spells officially graduated with a major in entrepreneurship and minor in hospitality management this past December, and her future has never looked brighter. With her hard-earned UNT degree, she has landed a job with American Airlines and is ready to take on the next chapter of her life.