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Never give up! TSU graduate shows it’s never too late to pursue your dreams

Written by on February 4, 2024

In the vibrant heart of Houston’s 3rd Ward, a beacon of inspiration shines through Eleanor Thomas, a native Houstonian whose journey at Texas Southern University (TSU) is a remarkable tale of resilience and dedication, particularly motivating for the youth and college students.

Eleanor’s educational journey began at Jack Yates High School, where she graduated in 1971 as a talented clarinet player in the band. She had the opportunity to pursue a band scholarship at a university in Dallas, but the strong pull of family ties and parental influence guided her decision to stay closer to home. Choosing TSU was more than a choice of education; it was a deep-seated desire to connect with her roots and be a part of the rich history of a historically black college in her own neighborhood, surrounded by peers and friends from Yates.

Her initial foray into TSU in 1971, majoring in psychology, marked the beginning of a path filled with unforeseen twists and turns. Life’s responsibilities, including marriage and family, necessitated breaks from her academic journey. Yet, Eleanor’s resolve never wavered; she always found her way back to TSU.

Despite having to leave TSU in 1973, Eleanor returned in 1995 with renewed vigor, this time focusing on Business. Her resilience shone through as she juggled the challenges of caring for her special needs child and ailing mother, which led to another hiatus in 1996. Nevertheless, she forged a remarkable professional path in the interim, rising from a seasonal gift wrapper to managing operations at major department stores and even serving in state-run programs, guided by her daughter’s advice.

Eleanor’s third return to TSU in 2021, amidst the pandemic, was proof of her indomitable spirit. She embraced the transdisciplinary studies program and completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Operations and Services a semester early, overcoming technological and health challenges.

Reflecting on her experiences at TSU, Eleanor fondly remembers working in accounting groups, bridging generational gaps. Her message to non-traditional students resonates with simplicity and power: “DO. NOT. STOP!!! Never stop, never ever give up.”

Her graduation was a moment of triumph and inspiration, not just for herself but for the younger students who motivated her to participate. She plans to return in Spring 2024 to celebrate and support those who inspired her.

Eleanor’s future is bright with plans to use her degree in meaningful ways, possibly in hospital business departments or running gift shops, hoping to defy ageism with her credentials and passion.

Looking back, she acknowledges the importance of listening to one’s heart, being prepared, and valuing parental guidance. She cherishes her freedom-seeking spirit, which has been instrumental in her journey.

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