JANS – Ammiesta “Ammie” Stewart, 50, graduated from Jackson State University’s (JSU) Mississippi Teacher Residency (MTR) Program on Friday, Dec. 8, after balancing motherhood, being an elementary school teacher, and an unanticipated lupus diagnosis.
Stewart is a mother of three and currently teaches in Jackson Public Schools. In May 2022, she was told by doctors that what was originally diagnosed as fibromyalgia was actually lupus.
Nevertheless, she declared prior to graduation that everyone would see the power of joy in her walk as she graced the stage at the Fall 2023 Commencement Ceremony.
“I had picked out my outfit for graduation weeks ago. My thing was to step, and I’m still stepping with knowing that I did this. I’m stepping knowing that God was there,” Stewart said. “I trusted Him and trusted His plan. I kept going. I stepped for my children. I stepped for my students. I stepped for the mothers and fathers who wanted to step but couldn’t.”
In March 2023, Stewart enrolled in JSU’s MTR Program, hosted by the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). Since then, she has been inducted into the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society and finished with a 3.9 GPA.
Stewart says the journey was rigorous, often battling flare-ups with lupus. Flare-ups can lead to extreme tiredness, fatigue, and chronic pain. Lupus causes inflammation and occurs when the immune system attacks its own tissues, as opposed to its normal function of protecting the body from infections and disease.
“I know when to throw in the towel, but sometimes it’s not about throwing in that towel. Take that towel and wipe these tears with it because I cry and all that kind of stuff sometimes, but with that being said, I can say I did it,” Stewart said.
The God-fearing diva knows that her journey with lupus is meant to help someone else. She thanks God that she has a sense of humor and a smile to carry her throughout her life.
Stewart began her collegiate journey in 1997 at Tougaloo College, but she paused her academics to care for her children. She later finished at Tougaloo in 2007 with two associate’s degrees – one in early childhood and the other in childhood development, and a bachelor’s degree in childhood development.
The Canton native gives credit to family, friends, church members, coworkers deemed family, and even her neighbors for being a stable support system during this time. She adds that affirmations, taking time to stop and breathe, and Romans 8:37 scripture got her through.
“I am more than a conqueror. I have that on a bracelet, too. We are more than conquerors through Him that loves us, loves me, loves you.”