Alumni: 95,000   Students: 16,000

Toneisha Colson ’18

Toneisha Colson ’18
Administrative Assistant
Jerome Belford’s Landscaping

What three words best describe who and what you are?
Tough. Saved. Quiet.

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
28 years ago I had a baby girl and when she was born I decided to go to school so I enrolled at ESC in 1990 but then she passed away a year later and I was lost after that. Losing my daughter was devastating. Finding the will to get up and take a shower was depressing. But then God gave me three more reasons to live, Justin, Jonathan and Aliyah. I had a horrible divorce from my ex-husband. I was verbally abused as well as raped twice. That part of my life was just as low as when my daughter passed away. I had to tell myself “get up and stop feeling sorry for yourself”. I did and when I let go and let God take over things fell into place. Well in 2014 I was diagnosed with Lupus. Its not a death sentence but it threw me for a loop. I also had two sons in college and a daughter in high school. I decided to get up shake the devil off and finish what I started. Well since November 2015 I have been enrolled in ESC non-stop. I have taken classes every semester!! I received my AS in 2017 but started classes for my BS in 2017 as well. Well I will getting my BS December 2018 which means I will have received my BS in a year and three months. January 2019 I will start Graduated school online at Towson University in Maryland.

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
I chose ESC because they use your life experience towards your degree. Also I have had the most amazing mentor Dr. Erin Young. ESC is a school that cares and want you to succeed.

Who supported and encouraged you along the way?
My children and my parents. My mother has a Business Degree and My father is a professor at SUNY Stony Brook and holds two Master’s Degrees, also my first cousin Dr. Jamal Colson P.h.D is a school principal. Education is deep in my family and I want to achieve.

What, if any, obstacles did you overcome?
My age, I am now 47, divorced, I have three children and a house to take care of. I had to overcome my illness, sometimes with Lupus you just can’t get out of bed. I had to overcome depression and trying to please everybody almost losing sight of God but he was there the whole time.

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Take your time! Choose a major that you love. Learn as much as you can, share as much as you can. It’s never too late to learn and grow. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand, make it fun, life is too short.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Because I feel that SUNY Empire gave me my life back, gave me a new purpose. So I need to pay it forward.

Anything else you would like to share?
I love this school and others should give it a try. Learning is fun especially here. One day I would love to work here but as for now let’s see where these degrees will take me.