Toddler motivates mom to finish college degree

WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — This week, Tiana Teixeira will finish something she started several years ago when she graduates with an Associate’s degree from Massasoit Community College.

To say the least, it’s been a long road to commencement — one punctuated by the pandemic and a pregnancy. Teixeira’s daughter, Niyana, is now two years old.

“I would sometimes wait until she would go to bed and I would be up all night,” said Teixeira. “Just had to get it done and I did.”

Getting it done sometimes meant resorting to drastic measures — such as taking Niyana along to her college classes.

“You know, a lot of strangers kind of scared her at first, but once she kept going a few times she got used to it,” Teixeira said.

But that did not mean Niyana sat attentively in class. Instead, mom tried to keep her occupied with coloring books, an iPad, or even her iPhone. But two-year-olds will be two-year-olds and Teixeira said Niyana could be pretty noisy.

“There were times when I stopped and apologized to the class,” she said. “And they’re like, don’t even apologize.”

She said the professor was also very understanding.

As was the school.

In fact, Massasoit is allowing Niyana to walk with her mom during the commencement procession.

“She has her own cap and gown,” Teixeira said. “It’s a great thing.”

Although she’s just two, Teixeira hopes her daughter absorbed a message from these last few months.

“Nothing should set you back,” she said. “If you want something, go after it — no matter what the situation is.”

The next thing for Teixeira to go after: a Bachelor’s degree — perhaps in health care.

“What I hope for the future is just for us to be stable,” she said. “To be comfortable.”

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