Story by Gilbert Magallon, ABC30

For about the last 24 years, Lynne Mayhew has worked towards one goal – graduating college. The finish line was in sight Friday morning and the only thing standing in her way was a few minutes.

“I’m pleased to be here, I’m ecstatic and it is exciting,” said Mayhew. In a matter of moments, her life changed and she became a Fresno State grad.

Abrupt, drastic changes are something Lynne knows all too well.

When she was 16, everything changed. Doctors discovered she had fluid in her spinal cord. It left her quadriplegic with very little function in her arms and legs.

“As soon as that fluid builds up, it put pressure on my nerves and it affected all of my left side and most of my right side,” she said.

For about the next 14 years, she would have constant surgeries. She was forced to drop out of college five times and things only got harder.

In 2014 her sole caregiver, her husband, passed away. She was forced to move back in with her parents in Coarsegold.

“I have him in my heart and he is in my phone and I tell him, you are with me all the way,” said Mayhew.

But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And Lynne is strong. She decided she would go back to school and this time to Fresno State.

“I thought – ‘What am I going to do now? Well I guess I better go get a job, well I can’t get a job unless I have my degree.’ So then I went to get my degree and here I am,” she said.

She gives thanks to her sociology professors and councilors for giving her that extra boost she needed to keep going.

“You can’t see right now, but there are chills all over my arms witnessing her and my other students as well walk today,” said academic counselor Joseph Rayes Scoto.

Lynne says this victory isn’t just hers, but her family’s and her husband’s, who she says will be with her when she gets her diploma.

Watch the story here.