Only one obstacle stands between 25-year-old Antony Gregory and a college diploma -a $498 bill on his Lincoln University student account.
He was told a couple of weeks ago that one of his Pell Grants, a grant provided by the federal government, was taken away because he had received the assistance for too many semesters. He was told he wouldn't be able to graduate with his class if he didn't pay his bill, then $815, by the time of Saturday's graduation ceremony.
Gregory said he's been calling friends and family to raise the funds ever since.
"It (graduation) means everything to me," Gregory said. "I will feel some type of victory that I've overcome everything and all of the struggles that I've been through."
If all goes as planned, Gregory will graduate with a sociology degree. He was offered a youth specialist position with the state of Missouri in St. Louis County. His future goals are to attend St. Louis University for a graduate degree in sociology and then to eventually attend law school.
He has refused to let his Pell Grant dilemma get him down.
"To be able to be the person I am today and have the goals that I have to further my education and future, it's really a big deal for me," Gregory said. "I really do deeply cherish the love and credit my mom has given me over the years. It's a blessing."
Gregory is from Dellwood in north St. Louis County and attended Riverview Gardens High School. He said he struggled throughout his youth, getting into fights and not caring much about schoolwork.
"A lot of people I grew up with are either dead or they're in jail," he said. "When I graduate from college, they will just be getting released from prison.
"It's a shame that has to happen."
Gregory's high school GPA was 1.9. His cumulative college GPA is nearly a 3.0. He's maintained a 4.0 his last three semesters.
"I never thought I'd be where I am today," he said. "I didn't even know I was going to go to college."
Gregory entered college through Bridge to Success, a program designed to transition students into college and to help them financially.
He has attended school in Maryville, has attended Southeast Missouri State University and started at LU in 2006.
Throughout his time at Lincoln, he worked as a tutor in order to pay for his schooling and living expenses.
He said he's excited to graduate and start a new chapter of his life. His mother, father and a few friends are attending Saturday's graduation ceremony.
His younger brother, Domonick, is also graduating from college Saturday, but from Southeast Missouri State University.
"I'm just happy to make my mom proud," Gregory said. "She's been through it all raising me and my brother and had to sacrifice a lot to make sure we had what we needed."
Lincoln University's commencement is at 10 a.m. May 11 at Dwight T. Reed Stadium, 1110 Chestnut St.