She was the first hands that held me, the first lips that kissed me and the first hand that I held. She is my hero, role model and best friend—she is my mother. And leaving home and her has been one of the most difficult moments of my life. My first breakup, fight with a best friends and low scoring grade have nothing on the moment when I first had to leave my mom for college.

Whether your goodbye was spent in the new dorm that will be your home for the next year, or in the driveway before you left before you embarked on a new journey called college, the feelings of sadness crash on in on us in the same waves. It hits the hardest when she cries first, and then the whole family is sobbing as the kisses, hugs and waves are dealt out like were never going to see each other again, even though we all know fall break is only a few months away. She has been right beside me for 18 years, and leaving her behind to find myself, and learn who and what I'm going to be in this world has never been easy, even as I start my junior year of college, three years after that initial embankment into the unknown world of college.

Before I start this year of school, I want to thank my mom for all the opportunities she has given me.

Firstly, the most important is the support needed to be away from home and college. It’s challenging being so far away from the only support system I have known. She has been my personal cheerleader to succeed in life for the entirety of my life, and my sole goal in life is to make her proud of the women I become. No matter the grade I received on a test or paper, she always told me how proud she was of my accomplishments.

I want to thank her for all the sacrifices she has made over the years to give me the best education she could supply me with, no matter how much she had to go without so that I would never want for nothing. My mother is the most selfless women I know, and even if I say it every day for the rest of my life, it won’t be enough to express the thanks I have for all she has given me. I am the first in my family to attend college, and I love knowing that my degree will one day provide me with the means to care for my family.

I want her to know that college is giving me the means to become the successful female leader I have always aspired to become. No matter how indecisive I was about majors, my mother told me I would excel in each field, and I truly believed her. She gave me the hope that I could one day fulfill all of my childhood dreams. Whether I wanted to be a nurse, or teacher or writer, she knew I had the perseverance to succeed.

I want to thank her for answering the phone every time I called, because God knows it was way more than necessary. Thank you for listening to every rant about my friends, classes and the food I had to eat in the cafeteria. Your sarcastic responses and little pep talks really got me through the past two years. Just hearing your voice alone gave me the little bit of hope needed to continue plowing through the chaos college can sometimes cause.

Lastly, thank you for creating a women that can love with all of her heart, especially someone who cares so much for her friends and family. The capacity to love is the greatest gift you could have given me. You’ve taught me to love with all my heart, to take chances and to go after every dream I have had in my life. You’ve taught me that the sky is the limit, and that no matter where and what I do with my life, you will be proud. As I started school, I was afraid of the years to come--would I make friends or what if I failed or had to drop a class? No matter the case, my mother stood by me, and with her support, I branched out, made friends that have been by me for years, and learned that a letter grade doesn't define my intelligence.

Thank you for being the women I hope to one day become.