Woman walks across Southern University stage to get diploma despite having multiple sclerosis

Updated: May. 10, 2019 at 5:55 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If a 1,000-mile journey starts with a single step, Chacity Simmons, 28, has already walked a lifetime.

“It’s unbelievable because I didn’t think I would physically be able to do anything,” said Simmons. “In 2016, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”

Simmons was at her wits end trying to figure out what was wrong when she could no longer understand what was happening with her body.

RELATED: Woman living with multiple sclerosis named chief student marshal for SU spring commencement

“When my mind is telling me to walk, I’m not able to do so,” said Simmons.

After an MRI and spinal tap, doctors finally realized Simmons had MS.

"I started having symptoms of slurred speech, had trouble walking, which eventually I wasn't able to talk for maybe a month," said Simmons.

As if battling MS isn’t enough, she’s also a single mother and enrolled at Southern University for her bachelor’s degree. She graduated from BRCC and decided to continue her education. She chose an online degree because she didn’t know if she could walk to classes at Southern.

RELATED: LSU, SU hold spring 2019 commencement ceremonies

Despite all she’s been through, Simmons walked across the stage at Southern University on Friday, May 10, graduating with a bachelor’s in criminal justice.

“It means a lot because I just didn’t imagine it, especially being a single mother, you still have to push. You still have to be an example,” said Simmons.

If that's not enough, she also graduated at the top of her class.


“The goal I set for myself was, ‘You’re going to do this regardless. You’re not going to let anything define your life,’” said Simmons.

She stuck to it, even going to take final exams with a cane because she couldn’t walk on her own.

"To anyone who is battling any disease, any medical issues, you cannot let it get you down," said Simmons. "You are your biggest or worst enemy, like literally. You have to know that no one can stop what you set out to do."

If you ever doubt yourself, let Simmons serve as your inspiration. Despite there being times she could not walk at all, she did walk across the stage at Southern University. Despite not being able to talk or type, she accepted a degree and she’s not finished with school just yet. A master’s degree or law school is next on her list.

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