Despite Incredible Odds — Robin White’s Unlikely Journey to Graduation

Four years ago, Robin White was struggling with depression, anxiety and addiction. She had just been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, and she was not sure she would ever return to a college classroom or graduate from college.

Now, White will walk the stage at the Selland Arena on May 18 to receive an Associate in Arts degree in human services, alcohol and drug counseling.

“It was a dream I’ve had since I was younger,” White says.

Now, two weeks from graduation, White, 55, is making a final push to attain one of her biggest life goals.

“It is going to be the biggest battle for me because of my Graves’ disease and thyroidectomy,” she said.  

In her time at Fresno City College, White has maintained a 4.0 GPA every semester. “That’s not because I think I’m Einstein,” she said. “I think it’s because of my passion.”

White said she hates to leave FCC and would love to work at the college; she is leaning towards becoming a counselor at a treatment center.

“I consider Fresno City College like a family,” she said. “I have not had one professor I did not like or that didn’t instill something into me.”

She said she is grateful for the support she received as a student.

“God put amazing people in my life,” White said. “And I just want to pay back and pay it forward by helping other people with all the resources, love and support I have received.”

White struggles with depression and anxiety and she wants to use her experience to help others.  “I have just been determined to overcome and I have more empathy for people because of what I have struggled with,” White said.

White was born and raised in Kingsburg, California and moved to Fresno five years ago, determined to go to school and pursue her life-long goal of becoming a counselor.

White raised her two daughters, Kara, 33, and Kailee, 19, as a single mother, became a published author, was an English tutor at FCC, and will soon add a graduating student to her list of her many accomplishments.

During the process of White’s move to Fresno in 2013, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and had a thyroidectomy.

“I was not able to maintain my apartment; also my mom was going through radiation treatment for breast cancer,” she said. “On top of everything, I was then homeless for a while and staying with a friend.”

White said her faith in God got her through the hardest times.

“Lord if you would just help me, I would go back to college,” White remembers saying before she applied to college. “And I will become a counselor and I will help other people.”

She also prayed for the opportunity to write after people told her she had a niche for her poetry she shared on Facebook. In 2012, a man named John Taylor approached her on Facebook and expressed an interest in her writing.

She wrote his biography, “Make My Life a Bible,” a book about miracles.  “Just knowing that God helped me with that process gave me the courage to think if I can do that, there must be a way for me to go back to college,” White said.

She said she decided to take leaps of faith.” I realized I was getting older, and if I wanted to accomplish anything that it could not happen by me just sitting around praying about it. I had to take action,” White said. “Being a low income, single parent and just thinking I need to work fulltime, I was not aware of all the resources and the support that was available to be able to do that at an older age, otherwise I would have done it years ago.”

Outside of school, White dedicates some of her time to her church, doing community work with youth, and feeding the homeless. She is the creator of the dream team at Celebration Church were she greets people and makes people feel welcome. “I talk to them so they don’t feel judged, and that no matter what they’re going through, there’s a place for them to go,” White said.

“This has been about the journey, and not the destination, and even though my goal was to become a counselor, I realized that during the journey, God was using all these counseling and social work classes to bring healing to me,” White said. “It has given me self-awareness and everything I need to be a counselor. I had made mistakes and learned things the hard way, but it has been humbling.”


  • Honors Recognition Ceremony: May 10 at 7:00 p.m in the OAB Auditorium, Room 251; students who have earned honors will be celebrated for their academic excellence. Honor Recognitions include — Highest Honors 3.5-4.0 GPA; High Honors 3.3-3.49; Phi Theta Kappa; Alpha Gamma Sigma; Leon S. Peters Honors Program, and the Dean’s Medallion Recipients.
  • Certificate Ceremony: May 11 at 5:30 the OAB Auditorium — students will be celebrated for their academic excellence here at FCC via a invitation letter to the ceremony from FCC Vice President of student services Dr. Lataria Hall.


  • Latino Graduation Celebration: May 12 at 10 a.m. This graduation will celebrate Latino students and their families.
  • Asian Pacific Islander Celebration of Success: May 12 from in the OAB Auditorium  from 10:30 a.m- 12:30 p.m. in the OAB East Courtyard. This graduation is a celebration for Asian and Pacific Islander students and their families.
  • African American Graduates Celebration: May 12 from 2-4 p.m in the OAB Auditorium room 251. The event, sponsored by FCC African American Faculty and Staff Association, will be a celebration of African American Students graduating as well as their families.
  • Commencement Ceremony: May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Selland Arena for students who have earned an Associate degree from the previous summer, fall, or this spring.