Their stories are as diverse as their backgrounds. From a female military member who balanced deployments with responsibilities as a White House communications manager to a former teen mom whose college aspirations seemed to be fading, the University of Phoenix’s Class of 2010 includes a number of graduates who’ve overcome numerous obstacles.

On Oct. 3, 300 students accepted their degrees from the Northern Virginia campus The Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md. Nearly 2,000 students, faculty and guests attended the graduation.

“These graduates are an inspiration to the University, as well as to their friends, families and co-workers, and we congratulate them on their academic success,” said Erik Greenberg, campus director, University of Phoenix – Northern Virginia, in a press statement.

Here are the stories of 2010 graduates Monica Price, Melissa Waters and Nephateria Moore.

Maryland Woman turns grief into glory

Monica Price thought she would simply cave in on herself when she lost her 16-year-old daughter to a tragic automobile accident during the course of her University of Phoenix bachelor’s degree program in business management. Instead, she found that her work as a NASA contract specialist, a focus on her studies and the knowledge that she was completing her college education in her daughter’s memory kept her going. Monica will walk in the University’s October commencement ceremonies and believes her daughter will be watching and applauding her mother’s efforts from a higher place.

Retailer combats struggling job market with education

Melissa Waters had been out of high school for more than 10 years before she thought about attending college. A busy manager in a Virginia bridal store, it was a dream she thought had passed her by.  She finally committed to taking online courses at University of Phoenix when she realized that she was not qualified for other employment because of her lack of higher education. The online format suited her hectic work schedule and her desire to spend quality time with her husband and family. Melissa is proud of her bachelor’s degree in business—a degree she believes will make her more marketable as an employee.

Stafford woman overcomes teen pregnancy, troubled family life
Nephateria Moore was a high school honor student when she became pregnant. At that time, many people gave up on her and told her she wouldn’t amount to anything.  With those seeds of doubt pressing on her, as well as the fact that she was coming from a troubled household where her parents were involved with illegal drugs, Nephateria knew a college education was key to her future. She not only earned her bachelor’s degree previously and currently holds a full-time job with the Naval Audit Service at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard, but also Nephateria will walk proudly in University of Phoenix’s October commencement as a master’s of management graduate. Obtaining her master’s lets Nephateria to say to her children, “See, Mommy could do it, and so can you.”