Students at N.C. Central University began its 2021-22 school year with high hopes for the “traditional” college experience since the previous school year was altered to accommodate the state’s COVID-19 protocols.
Classes were moved back to in-person. Students and staff were excited to get back to some sense of normal. Among these students was 21-year-old Destiny Rush, a junior psychology student hoping to one day own her firm.
Rush’s college experience started pretty rough her freshman year in 2019.
She struggled with debilitating mental health challenges stemming from past experiences that prevented her from excelling in her studies.
Although Rush’s school life was so troubling, she knew her mom Tammy and her dad Antwaun would support her. They listened to her problems and would do everything in their power to aid in the process of bettering herself.
She loved both of her parents but she would be proud to say that she’s a daddy’s girl at heart.
“We call each other twin, not only because we look alike, but because we’re very close. He’s the best father and I look up to him” said Rush during our first interview.
By the summer of 2021 with the help of her loving parents, Rush felt like a new and improved version of herself. Her grades had improved drastically and she had a more positive outlook on life.
She still had her moments here and there in reference to her mental health, but things started to look better.
Rush had high expectations starting her junior year and made small goals to reach throughout her first semester. Things started exceptionally well but things were flipped upside down the morning of Oct. 9, 2021.
It was a quiet and gloomy morning because of the wind and rain. Rush was asleep in her dorm room before being awoken by a phone call from her mother around 8 a.m.
Although this was a little strange, Rush didn’t think much of it and enthusiastically went downstairs to greet her outside. The two went back upstairs to her suite.
In Rush’s head, she was about to show off her freshly cleaned room that her mother hasn’t seen before she got back in.
After getting back in her dorm, her mom asked her to sit with her on the couch in the living area. When speaking with Rush about the morning, she said “When she told me and my suitemate to sit with her in the living area, the first thing I said was ‘who died?’ because it was strange needing to sit down before she began talking.”
“We sat down and she said she was sorry to tell me that someone did pass away. I immediately asked who and started naming people off that I knew were alive like my aunt Beans and my grandma,” Rush said.
After running out of name options, Rush then half-heartedly asked if it was her dad who had died.
“Yes. It is,” her mom said.
Rush’s first reaction wasn’t to cry or ask what happened. It was to run.
“It was a total shock. My fight or flight kicked in and I just jumped up and ran out of my dorm, it felt like I was about to pass out. I felt numb and everything in the world seemed to just stop. Cease to exist. Nothing made sense,” Rush said.
Rush was completely distraught. She never imagined that the news she received could happen in her lifetime.
She had done so much work on herself in the past few years to positively influence her mental health and it felt as though all of that hard work was being undone. She had to leave school for a week which started the decline of academic success and had to figure out how to grieve her father in a healthy way.
When talking to Rush about her transition back to school after everything, she said “My mental health definitely declined more when my father passed away but I decided to keep pressing on and to stay positive. Although some professors seemed frustrated with my situation, others were extremely helpful in getting me back into the swing of school.”
Even though this tragedy has stunted her academic success, she doesn’t plan on letting it continue to prohibit her from achieving her goals in life.
“Losing my daddy is the hardest thing I’ve experienced in my life. It’s hard to move forward with all the sorrow I feel but I try because I know he would want me to. I try to stay as positive as possible so I can continue with my life.”