Right after Candace Hall turned in her dissertation, wrapping up her time as a student at Maryville University, she walked out to a sweet surprise.
Grinning from ear to ear were her three kids, ages 7,6, and 4. They were doing the floss dance to 1K Phew’s song “We Did It.” After the dancing, they picked up signs that read "I love you mom!" "We did it!" and "Dr. Mom."
"I was pleasantly surprised. Not many people can effectively surprise me but they did. And it was just a joy to celebrate that moment with me,” Hall told InsideEdition.com.
“They saw me when I started the process and for them to see me finish, it was a blessing."
The 31-year-old spent the last two years working towards her doctorate in higher education. Hall’s dissertation examined the factors that contribute to job satisfaction in academia, especially among faculty of color.
At the same time, she was juggling a full-time job working as an academic program coordinator at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as her roles as a wife and a mom.
“There are times where it’s overwhelming and I’m like, I think about this too much. I have to balance way too much, I have to give up something,” Hall started.
“It was really important to just sit down and prioritize what was important to me. And then also to understand this would not be a permanent thing, like things that I would be sacrificing.
Hall says the key to her success was proper planning.
“My advice would be to write down your goals, what you see yourself doing and then put it up somewhere so that you see it and it’s a reminder why you’re doing this. So that in those days, it feels impossible and you feel like giving up, you can remember why you started.”
"My philosophy was, as long as I look ahead, so if life gets in the way and I fall behind, then I'll be exactly where I need to be."
Hall passed with flying colors. Her hooding ceremony and graduation will be in the Spring of 2020. She’s suspecting her loved ones may have yet another trick up their sleeves, but what’s most important to her is the lesson her children will take away from her diligence.
“I just hope my kids remember this when they get older and they feel like, 'Oh, I can’t do it.' I hope they look back to this moment, like, ‘Look what mom did,’” Hall said.