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A Remarkable Example of Persistence

by David DeFord

Fourteen-year-old junior high student, JoPhena Simpson had to leave school to have a baby. While she was off school, she made up her mind to become a nurse.

As I write this, I realize the incredible understatement in the last paragraph. When JoPhena makes up her mind, she really makes up her mind! She is the perfect example of the quote by William Feather,

      “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

We can all learn about perseverance from Ms. Simpson.

After delivering her baby, JoPhena returned to finish junior high school, and then high school. Initially rejected by nursing school, she tried again and received acceptance.

The classes seemed impossible—shaking her confidence. Her stress grew. But she kept pressing herself.

She took a semester off after she lost her father, her brother and her grandmother in one year. The strain caused her to re-evaluate her dream. Career placement test results suggested she consider nursing. So she returned to school.

Graduating in 1998, this remarkable woman lacked the $175 to register for her licensing exam. In an Omaha World-Herald column, Rainbow Rowell praised JoPhena’s perseverance, and highlighted her financial need. Generous readers donated the exam registration funds.

She failed.

She also failed in her second and third tries.

“I became really discouraged—more so than I’ve ever been. It was like I failed. Even though I had completed nursing college, I felt like a failure.” But she kept attacking.

She knew the material, but struggled with test anxiety.

Before her fourth test, she felt ready. A year of preparation and professional test preparation classes gave her more confidence than she had in her first three attempts.

“I just knew I would be able to pass,” she said. “And I didn’t.”

Each time she took the test, it seemed harder than the last. What would I have done? What would you have done?

As she has done for the last 25 years, when as a pregnant 14-year-old she made up her mind to become a nurse, she kept pushing herself.

In February of 2004, JoPhena Simpson took the nursing exam for the fifth time—more than five years after her graduation. This time she passed it.

This remarkable lady has shown us how circumstances and conditions cannot keep a fully committed person from achievement.

When one of your goals proves unexpectedly difficult, think of JoPhena’s never-say-die attitude.

What a tremendous example she has set for her three children—and for us all.

Thanks to Rainbow Rowell of the Omaha World-Herald for her help.

Related Quotes

"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature." John D. Rockefeller

"Defeat is simply a signal to press onward." Helen Keller

"Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic. It is not idly, passively waiting and hoping for some good thing to happen. It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying. We must never give up, regardless of temptations, frustrations, disappointments, or discouragements." Joseph B. Wirthlin

"You don't become enormously successful without encountering and overcoming a number of extremely challenging problems." Mark Victor Hansen

"What we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement." Napoleon Hill

Related Offerings

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Ordinary People Can Achieve the Extraordinary-A Practical Guide to Goal Achievement will help you bust past the inevitable obstacles. In the past, you became discouraged and quit chasingwith your dream.< your dreams.
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The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream
by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt
Chosen by Essence to be among the forty most influential African Americans, the three doctors grew up in the streets of Newark, facing city life's temptations, pitfalls, even jail. But one day these three young men made a pact. They promised each other they would all become doctors, and stick it out together through the long, difficult journey to attaining that dream. This is a story about the power of friendship. Of joining forces and beating the odds. A story about changing your life, and the lives of those you love most...together.

Left for Dead : My Journey Home from Everest
by Beck Weathers
“I can tell you that some force within me rejected death at the last moment and then guided me, blind and stumbling — quite literally a dead man walking — into camp and the shaky start of my return to life....”
In 1996 Beck Weathers and a climbing team pushed toward the summit of Mount Everest. Then a storm exploded on the mountain, ripping the team to shreds, forcing brave men to scratch and crawl for their lives. Rescuers who reached Weathers saw that he was dying, and left him.
Twelve hours later, the inexplicable occurred. Weathers appeared, blinded, gloveless, caked with ice — coming down the mountain as a “dead man walking.”
In this powerful memoir, Weather describes not only his escape from hypothermia and the murderous storm that killed nine climbers; he describes another journey, a life’s journey. This is the story of a man’s route to a dangerous sport and a fateful expedition, as well as the road of recovery he has traveled since.
In Left for Dead, we are witness to survival in the face of certain death, the reclaiming of a family and a life, and the most remarkable adventure of all: what we can do when we’re offered a second chance.

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