“Cancer Didn't Stop Me”: Woman Graduates From USC at Age 52

It was a bit of a soggy celebration at USC on Friday.

The university's graduation ceremony featured plenty of hoods and ponchos due to the morning rain.

But there was no way the weather could put a damper on the festivities for one USC student who just beat an aggressive form of breast cancer.

It took decades to get here for Reyna Raya, now a doctor of pharmacy.

It was an emotional day. She first put her studies on hold at age 26, when she became a single parent.

"It's taken a lot of work and a lot of effort," she says.

At 45, this mom from East Los Angeles returned to college but a year later she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

"Cancer didn't stop me," she says.

It drove her to come to class despite her treatments, first during her undergrad, then while at the USC School of Pharmacy.

"If it weren't for some of my classmates helping me carry my books, carry my purse, I don't know how I would have done it," she says.

Pete Vanderveen, the dean of the USC school of pharmacy, was inspired by her.

"When you see an actual person that's gone through what she's gone through and has succeeded as she succeeded that's the stuff you need to see," he says.

Raya also galvanized her classmates, creating the grass-roots event "Rock the Pink" to spread breast cancer awareness.

Now at 52, this mother of two sons, one in the Navy,  the other a police officer, is now the first college graduate in her family.

Armed with her degrees and other awards she will continue working in South LA, her community.

"I grew up in Compton," she says. "I grew up in East LA. Those are the areas where they need us, not just us as pharmacists but us as in Latinas."

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