ORANGEBURG, S.C. (courtesy claflin.edu) — After 26 years from when she began her quest to earn a degree at Claflin University, Eydie Moody finally achieved her dream. Moody was among more than 300 scholars who were conferred bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Claflin’s 2021 Spring Commencement Convocation on Saturday, April 24, at 11 a.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. The moment was particularly special for Moody because her daughter Gari (GiGi) Forehand was also a member of the Class of 2021. Moody earned a degree in criminal justice and Forehand, a thrower on Claflin’s women’s track and field team, was a sport management major.
Moody, a native of Long Island, N.Y., completed her associate degree in criminal justice in 1995 at Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y. She moved to South Carolina and was all set to pursue a degree at a four-year institution. However, financial difficulties forced Moody to put her plans on hold.
“I was a single parent and I moved to South Carolina to be near my sister and brother-in-law. They were serving in the Marines and assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, S.C.,” Moody said. “I was a single parent with children who were participating in everything. I had to be there for them. They were my top priority.”
Moody later resumed her studies and began taking classes online. She was again planning to enroll in a four-year college when she encountered another life-altering crisis,this time in the form of colorectal cancer. At the time, Forehand was in middle school and her son Ziaire was attending the Citadel. However, much like the previous setback when she had to sacrifice attending school to make financial concessions and focus on the needs of her children, Moody faced the challenge head-on. She summoned her indomitable resilience and with the expert care and treatment of her doctors, and she has been cancer free for nine years. Once she was no longer under the care of her doctor, she decided to try it again, but by this time, Forehand was entering college.
“Once I was released from my doctor’s care, I was recommitted to finishing school. But GiGi’s needs came first so I had to make sure she was all set to begin college,” Moody said. “Once that was settled, I asked GiGi if she would mind if I attended Claflin, since I always wanted to go to an HBCU. Her only question was ‘are you going to be on campus?’ I enrolled and registered for classes at Claflin through the Center for Professional and Continuing Education. I assured GiGi that all of my classes were online and the rest is history.”
Despite her concerns for whether or not Moody would have a presence on campus, Forehand was excited about sharing the commencement stage with her mother.
“Completing my degree with my Mom is something words cannot explain,” Forehand said. “I never would have imagined that my mother and I would become college graduates on the same day. Without a doubt, my mother has always been my biggest supporter. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, she was there for every school and/or sporting event. Having cancer slowed her down but she never lost her passion to finish and for continuing her education. Graduating with her is a huge honor.”
Forehand, who graduated cum laude, also displayed her leadership skills with several campus organizations. As a senior, she was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, lead intern in the Department of Athletics, and she also served as theEpistoleus (historian and reporter) of the Theta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Forehandwill continue her education in Claflin’s MBA program in the Fall.
Although Moody felt like the years passed slowly, she never wavered from her dream of earning a college degree. She said that her mother calls her a “professional student” because it seems like she has been in school her entire life.
“I felt that I was too close to not finish and since I have always told my children to finish what you start,” she said. “It was only right that I did so as well.”
For the past three years, Moody has worked with the Bluffton Police Department. Previously, she spent 13 years with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. In August 2020, she launched her business, Lowcountry Virtual Assistant, which provides general administrative services and social media support to small businesses. “My goal is to scale my business by having four other virtual assistants under my umbrella,” she said.