After losing mother and facing cancer diagnosis, Concordia student graduates a year early

After overcoming adversity, a Farmington woman graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul a year early.

A social media post about 21-year-old Paige Shaffer gained a lot of attention. Thursday, she spoke about her journey and what she hopes to accomplish next.

“I had an incredible support system that I’m so blessed to be a part of,” she said.

After just three years, 21-year-old Paige Shaffer, this month, earned a degree in education from Concordia University in St. Paul.

“In my life, I want to be a teacher,” Shaffer said. “It’s a dream I’ve always had.”

The oldest of four, Shaffer’s story is one of loss and perseverance.

In 2011, she lost her mom to breast cancer. Four years later, at the age of 13, she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

“I was in shock for a while,” she said. “I never thought that after losing my mom I would also be diagnosed with cancer.”

After a hard-fought battle, she’s been cancer-free for more than a year.

“It greatly changed my perspective on life. I’m now much more appreciative for the little things. Just waking up in the morning, having a wonderful family and house to live in. The sunshine. The smiles.”

Despite the setbacks, she focused on her studies, all while helping raise her siblings.

“I think that’s what you do for family,” she said. “It’s family and you do whatever you can to help, support them and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Shaffer’s dad took to social media to write about the hurdles his daughter crossed and the post went viral.

“It’s incredible to read the posts and see all of the comments, even though most of the people don’t know me,” Shaffer said.

Overcoming tremendous obstacles, Shaffer is eager to give back.

“I love being able to be a part of a child’s journey and watching them come into the classroom each and every day knowing that I’ll have an impact in their lives and shape them into the person that they can become in the future,” she said.