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Commencement Close-Up: UTSA's Kim McClurg earns degree despite life's obstacles

Kim McClurg and children

Kim McClurg and her children

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(Dec. 15, 2010)--Overcoming adversity has been a way of life for 38-year-old Kim McClurg. As a child, she beat leukemia. As an adult, she is raising three children, home schooling her eldest son and tutoring athletes -- all while being a student in the UTSA Honors College. At 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17, McClurg will receive her bachelor's degree in history in the fall 2010 commencement ceremony for the Honors College.

McClurg's accomplishments are even more impressive, considering the fact that she achieved them while her husband has been in prison for the last four years. Her journey began shortly after his incarceration, when she was living in Irving. At a speaking engagement by Maya Angelou, the renowned poet recited her poem "And Still I Rise," and the words inspired McClurg to look beyond her circumstances and move forward with her life.

"I was responsible for three children, and knew I did not have the education I needed to support them," said McClurg.

McClurg decided to move to San Antonio and enrolled at Northwest Vista College, where she excelled, earning an associate degree in history. She continued her education by transferring to UTSA to pursue a bachelor's degree in history. She accepted an invitation to join the UTSA Honors College, and after enrolling in her first course in African-American history, became impassioned with the discipline.

"I don't think we realize how desensitized we are to the injustices inflicted on people because of the color of their skin, still in force today," said McClurg. "Until you gain knowledge, unless you seek out knowledge, then you just don't know."

McClurg credits her faith, family and mentors, UTSA Honors College faculty members Laguana Gray and Ann Eisenberg, for assisting her along the way.

"Kim is an exceptional student, a very hard worker and demands nothing less than perfection from herself in the classroom," said Eisenberg, UTSA associate professor of psychology and associate dean of the Honors College. "She is motivated by passion and has loved the way college opened her eyes to a new understanding of the world and of the community and country in which she lives."

McClurg earned her degree with the assistance of financial aid and the Carlos and Malu Alvarez Scholarship, which she received twice.

"UTSA instilled strength and confidence in me, knowing that in spite of everything, the strength, faith and sheer determination of will to accomplish my goals propelled me forward," said McClurg.

McClurg was accepted into the UTSA master's program in history and plans to obtain a doctoral degree and teach at a university.