Carol Walls achieves the dream through turmoil at 58

Carol Walls is a paragon of perseverance. Despite living through the horrors of cancer, the death of her parents, and the death of her husband, Walls never gave up on her dream of attaining a college degree. Now, at the age of 58, she is one of the eight community college students handpicked from all over the United States to receive the Achieving the Dream scholarship.

Every year, according to MCblogs, Achieving the Dream hosts a competition between students attending the community colleges amongst their network to determine candidates for their prestigious year-long leadership program. These colleges nominate students, and these nominees are narrowed down to an exclusive handful.

This year, Carol Walls represents Montgomery College as part of that handful, allowing her to give a press conference about this amazing opportunity.

Born in southeast Washington D.C. in the year 1960, Walls was the only daughter in a family of five sons. Her grandmother, a minister, expected her to get married and bear children, but Walls said she always knew that she was destined for more. And despite the role expected of her by her extended family, Walls had a good relationship with both her parents, calling her father her “partner in crime”.

“She was my hero.” Walls commented on the relationship she had with her mother. “She still is.”

Their deaths impacted her greatly, specifically her mother’s, whose phone line she continued to call up until the heartbreaking moment she realized that the line was disconnected.

“My mother was the first person to tell me: ‘You don’t have to get married’.” Walls recalled fondly, “‘Do what you want to do.’”

And now many years later, that’s exactly what she did. After struggling with the deaths of her loved ones and the throes of cancer, Walls started attending Montgomery College in hopes of receiving a degree in business. Walls also started a business called No Hidden Agenda, designed to help victims of domestic violence. But Walls explained that she, like everyone else, had days where she wanted to quit, and she definitely would have if it weren’t for the numerous efforts of Dr. Denise Simmons Graves, a counselor for Montgomery College.

“She wouldn’t leave me alone.” Walls chuckled.

The counselor had contacted her, shortly after noticing that Walls hadn’t registered for classes that semester. Walls proceeded to tell her that she didn’t plan on returning for another semester, but that didn’t deter Graves. Graves refused to give up on her, and thanks to the counselor’s determination, Walls returned to the college.

“The last ten years of my life have been extremely, extremely, extremely rough.” Walls said, but as she weaved through the hardships and troubles life threw her way, she learned that every single one of those hardships and troubles taught her one thing: resilience.