Mom graduating from Butler University has 'crazy' story of determination

(WTHR Photo: Rich VanWyk)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Just in time for mother's day, we found a mother-daughter story of love, tears, determination and a college graduation.

Even Mom admits it all sounds a little crazy. In reality, it is remarkable.

The day before graduation, Eyewitness News found one of Butler University's most determined seniors happily and enthusiastically working in a south side Casey's convenience store.

"A lot of people look at my story like 'this is crazy,'" said Madeline Smith. "They can't believe, you did this but this is what I had to do to live."

Four years ago Madeline was 17 years old, graduating high school, pregnant and at a crossroads.

"I could work what my mom did, work 12 hour days, hopefully make rent or go to college and make a life for myself," she said.

Madeline bravely chose college, Butler University. "The freshman became "Mom."

Arabelle arrived during the university's winter break. New mom Madeline was at her desk when classes resumed 10 days later.

"I don't remember sleeping at all, " she explained, "I don't ever know how I turned in my assignments because a lot of it was a blur, because babies take up so much time and so does college."

Madeline was a full-time single mom. A full-time student, working part-time and exhausted all the time.

"There were night's I cried. You have to let it out and keep going," Madeline said. "She became my motivation. Every morning when I woke up just to see her face, seeing her happy and knowing I was providing for her and providing for her future that's what made it worth it."

Instead of college parties and homecomings, Madeline was working or at home raising Arabelle and studying. "I think I became a better mom because of the experience," and perhaps a better student.

She is graduating after four years.

"Determination and pushing yourself can get you where you want to be. This is what I wanted," Madeline said, "I got there," with Arabelle at her side.

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