MEQUON - After eight years of hard work, a young mother graduated with her doctor of pharmacy at Concordia University on Friday.
Twenty-six-year-old Margaret Rios says graduation feels surreal.
"It’s been tough, but I made it work, and now I've proven to myself that I can do anything," Rios said.
One year into school, Rios had her daughter, Aubrianna. A few years later she had her son, Brooklyn.
"Once I had my daughter and I realized I needed a plan set in stone," Rios said. "I decided to go with that gut feeling that pharmacy was for me."
Some days Rios would start work at 4:30 a.m. at Starbucks, hustle to campus for class, and then study, take care of the kids or pick up another shift.
"You can ask my mom, I wanted to quit lots of times, but I knew I couldn’t. That wasn’t an option for me, that wasn’t an option for the kids," Rios said.
"I knew she didn’t want to give up," Rios' mother, Debie Gifford, said. "Sometimes you just hit a wall and you need to bounce it off somebody."
Gifford knows first hand. She said she raised three girls and worked as a nurse for more than 30 years.
Last year, Rios took on another challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the beginning, it felt really good to be part of the front line workers in the pandemic," Rios said. "And then I was also worried about bringing home COVID-19 to my family at night."
She worked at Froedtert and CVS, helping take care of patients or administering vaccines. All this time she was pregnant with her third child. She and her husband are expecting a baby girl very soon.
"I hope my daughter is aware of what's going on," Rios said. " She’s very smart, so I'm sure she knows. So I hope she can look back on this one day, and I hope I can show my other kids, too, where resilience and determination can get you."
Rios says next she starts a job as a grad intern at Walgreens.
Until then, Sunday will be the first Mother's Day she has off since she has become a mother.