Commencement Spotlight: Tausha Leilich
July 31, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins
Each semester, the Commencement Spotlight series highlights graduating Bearkats with a “can-do” spirit through challenge and service.
Honey Grove, Texas
Bachelor of Science in Communications
Like many first-generation students, Tausha Leilich’s road to graduation was paved with twists and turns. As she prepares to experience her 33-year dream come to fruition with her official commencement on Aug. 5, the communications major offers high praise to Sam Houston State University’s First-Generation Center and the role they played along the way.
“I began receiving emails from the First-Gen Center and suddenly felt like I had a support group that was cheering me on,” said Leilich, who completed her degree online. “I felt supported even though I wasn’t on campus. There were days when I wanted to quit but would see another email and think about all the other first-gen students that were putting in the work. I felt that encouragement to continue.”
Leilich originally began attending SHSU in 2008, but stepped aside soon after to focus on her family. She resumed courses online in the fall of 2022 and will receive her bachelor’s degree in communication studies. Post graduation, she will serve as president of SHSU’s Lambda Pi Eta chapter in the fall, the official honor society of the National Communication Association.
“I get emotional when I think I am finally graduating,” Leilich said. “I have always felt that Sam provides great educational opportunities for everyone.”
Her collegiate career first began in a traditional manner after graduating high school in 1990. She completed three years at Harding University, Paris Junior College and the University of West Florida, but hit the pause button when she got married so she and her husband could allocate their resources to his flight school.
“We started having kids and I became a stay-at-home mom, but I always knew I wanted to go back to school and finish,” Leilich said.
In the early 2000s, one of her neighbors attended SHSU and she would often help out by watching his kids while he pursued his degree. Leilich’s neighbor lauded SHSU and the flexibility they offered to non-traditional students. She kept this in mind when she began pursuing her education again in 2008. While she enjoyed her courses and time on campus, she found herself missing out on too many of her kids’ activities.
“I loved it, but it was just too hard with three kids,” Leilich said. “But I decided to stick with Sam, even after all those years.”
She originally had aspirations to teach during her first stint in college, but decided to major in psychology when she began at Sam. She admits science was never her strong point but kept psychology as a minor when she returned in 2022 in pursuit of her communications degree. Now, with her diploma secured, she hopes to find a career in human resources.
“It has all been kind of an evolution of what my degree has become,” Leilich said.
While completing her degree, the first-gen student’s story has come full circle as she watches the next generation follow in her footsteps. Leilich’s youngest son is also a student at SHSU, enrolled at the same time as his mother.
“I joke that I take online classes so my son doesn’t have to run into me on campus and feel embarrassed,” Leilich said. “But my kids have been so supportive of me returning to school.”
Family continues to be the number one priority as graduation day approaches.
“I get to tell my parents that I’m graduating, and my dad would always tell me to get my education,” Leilich said. “Neither of my parents ever had the opportunity to go to college, so for them to have a child graduating, even though I’m 51, makes them so excited. I feel like I’m delivering on a promise I made to them.”
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