Editor's Note: This profile is part of a series that features the stories of more than a dozen graduates whose outstanding journeys have culminated in a UMGC degree.
Lucreatia Perry’s academic journey has been a raucous experience, punctuated with unthinkable challenges. When she receives her bachelor's degree during Winter Grad Walk 2022 at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)—with her four children, husband and other relatives cheering—she not only will have proof that she has overcome the odds, but she’ll be ready for a career aimed at justice.
“Things in your life may not go as planned and, to you, life may seem delayed,” she said. “But that doesn't negate that you can still fulfill whatever destiny you foresee for yourself and just not to give up.”
Perry grew up in the District of Columbia, married in 2014 and moved to White Plains, Maryland. A foray into higher education at a West Virginia school didn’t go well, setting her academic aspirations back years. As time went on and her household filled with children and relatives, she knew that completing a bachelor’s degree could be difficult.
“I kind of gave up hope, but then I saw the commercial for UMGC and I thought, ‘I could do that. I can find that balance and finish this.’”
Perry works full time as a campaign specialist for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her children, two boys and two girls, range in age from 3 to 12. And during the time she was studying, the family moved to a larger home to accommodate the addition of her mother and her husband’s mother, grandmother and aunt to their household.
Not only was there a whirlwind of people, but everyone in the household was immunocompromised, making the COVID pandemic especially difficult. When the virus eventually hit the family, the consequences were gutting. Her husband's grandmother died from the coronavirus.
But that wasn’t all. Perry’s husband, Derrick—also a UMGC student was a security guard in federal buildings in Washington during the Jan. 6 riot. And then he was in a terrible automobile accident that totaled the car and put him in the hospital, stressing the family’s finances.
For two semesters, Perry did all of her coursework on her cellphone because she didn’t have a laptop.
“I didn't tell my professors until class ended because I didn't want sympathy,” she said. “I didn't want anyone to extend any assignment. I wanted to show and prove to myself that I can still do it.”
She made the Dean’s List. Perry majored in criminal justice because she sees a lot of disparity in the treatment of the minority community by law enforcement and in health care.
“It's unfortunate that we have an inadequate health care system, judicial system,” she said. “But I'm hoping that by equipping myself with the knowledge, I can go back into my former communities and help equip them with the tools they need to overcome those obstacles so it's not a repeated cycle.”
She praised the teaching quality of many of her professors, noting that they sharpened her critical thinking skills.
“My professor in the Introduction to Homeland Security really pushed me to the limit to expound on my way of thinking, the application of skills and the application of supportive resources,” she explained.
Feedback from faculty was also important to her.
“One would say, ‘Explore the topic you’re passionate about because you definitely can do this,’” she said. “That helped me keep pushing every single day in class, and I would be up late sometimes to three in the morning to complete assignments.
“Getting this kind of feedback, made me think, ‘Keep going, girl. You got this.’”
Assignments on group projects opened her up to “digesting other people’s information and considering different perspectives from my own,” she said. She even uses some of those skills now in dealing with her children.
The degree path was no cake walk for Perry, but graduation is not the end of her UMGC studies. She already has signed up for a master’s program in criminal justice.