Graduation Series: Grandmother Inspired Social Work Student to Help Others

May 3, 2017

Okia Robinson, 24, of Tchula, has a deep passion for taking care of people. 

Her compassion for others, including the love she had for her grandmother, Bonnie Rodgers is what drove Robinson’s path to Mississippi Valley State University to study social work. 

“I chose to go into social work and more specifically mental health because I watched my grandmother, suffer from schizophrenia,” said Robinson. 

From her youth, Robinson was impacted deeply by the way mental health effects families. She challenged herself to understand it better. Since this time, she has focused on finding a way to help people who deal with mental health issues. 

 “It was important for me to learn about the different side effects and understand better what she was going through,” Robinson explained. “We had to learn how to help her overtime. She died nearly six years ago, but I want to be able to help other people who might go through the same thing.”

Robinson remembered how frightened she was when the family was first confronted with her grandmother’s condition.   

“It was scary at first because we weren’t educated on it. I can remember when she moved in with us she would yell and scream in the middle of the night. She would see things and would become upset when we didn’t see what she saw.”

The patience Robinson developed overtime with her grandmother has served her perfectly during her internship with Life Help in Holmes County. 

“Over time, I learned how to be patient with her and calm her down,” she said. “I would just pretend I saw what she saw, and I would get rid of it for her and that seemed to calm her down.”

With her graduation date just around the corner, Robinson is ready for the next chapter in her life. 
 “Life Help has offered me a full time job,” said Robinson. “I plan to get my masters in social work, pass my licensure exam and even pursue a Ph.D. one day.” 

While the degree is a major accomplishment for Robinson, she will tell you in a heartbeat that the motivation behind finishing school is her two beautiful children Kamree (5) and Jayden (4 months). 
“My kids are my biggest motivation because I want better for them,” said Robinson. “I want them to be able to say, that even though my mom was a single mom, she still completed high school and college.” 

By her own description, the journey to commencement has been one filled with gloomy days where she wanted to give up and many days not even get out of bed. 

By the grace of God I did it, I pushed through,” said Robinson. 

“It was hard and many days I wanted to quit because I thought I just couldn’t do it, but I had a strong support system with family and friends who also pushed me finish,” she continued. 

Robinson isn’t embarrassed to admit before kids she was all about having fun and focusing on herself.
“Before my kids, I didn’t realize the importance of education. I thought partying and hanging out was fun. When I became a mother I realized I’m not living for Okia anymore, I’m living for my kids.”

The clarity her children provide and the lessons she learned from helping to care for her grandmother gives Robinson direction.

“It feels unreal to be finishing college. I’m the youngest of three girls and my sister Fermekia (Robinson) is someone I admire. She was a teenage mom, but she finished high school, she has her bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. She was a social worker and now she is a teacher.”

Robinson said her sister always told her, “If you want something bad enough you will do whatever you must to get it.”

Robinson credits Valley for giving her the tools to better take care of her children and preparing her for the workforce. 

“Coming to Valley was the smartest decision I ever made,” said Robinson.  “Our professors really push us while stressing that as African Americans nothing is given to us, and if you want something you have to get out there and work hard for it. 

Robinson’s Valley experience has been one she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Teachers like Latosha Caesar and Lucille Lacey are people Robinson truly appreciates. 

“I have enjoyed myself at The Valley because it’s like coming to school with your family,” Robinson explained. “We are close the professors are really good and I love that about this school.”