Sephra Ross

  • Major at OCC: Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counseling
  • High School: Liverpool, class of 1999

Nearly two decades after graduating from high school, Sephra Ross decided to give college a try. “I had wanted to go to school before but I had this mindset that, ‘I’m not going to be good at it. It’s been so long and I’m going to be so old.’ I was making excuses. I met someone who said, ‘You should just try it. What’s the worst that could happen?’ So I did.”

In the summer of 2017 Ross started taking classes at OCC. The results were not what she was expecting. She was taking English and turned in her first paper. “I didn’t think I did well on it. I got the paper back and the grade on it was an A+. I looked at it and said, ‘Wait a minute. Is that mine? Oh wow it is mine!’”

That “A+” was just the beginning. It was followed by a series of “A’s” on other papers and it continued into the fall. In the spring 2018 semester her continued excellence resulted in her induction into OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. “I was shocked and it was so exciting. I don’t usually have things like that happen to me.”

What makes Ross’s story remarkable is the life she led between high school and college. She battled with substance abuse for 15 years before turning her life around. “I feel lucky to be alive. You have no idea. I’ve lost so many friends. I didn’t think I would make it past age 27.”

Today she’s 38-years–old and has been in recovery for four years. Her major is Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counseling. She wants to help those who are living the life she once lived. “I feel everything I’ve been through has led me to this. I feel like I’m on the right path and am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  I’ve taken for so long. Now it’s time for me to give back.”

After she earns her degree from OCC, Ross plans to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees on the way to becoming a counselor. “Part of me wishes I would have done this sooner but I realize everything happens when it should. I never thought I would fit in at a college but now I realize I do.”

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