In Fayetteville, inspiring Army widow turned tragedy to triumph

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Maria Moran

The widow of a U.S. army soldier -- killed in a senseless shooting more than two decades ago -- wants to serve as an inspiration for others.

Maria Moran will graduate from Liberty University next weekend with a doctorate in education. And both her sons hold advanced degrees.

As tragic as it sounds, the murder of her husband put her on the path to being a huge inspiration to others.

"I never like to think of the negative," Moran said. "I don't dwell on it. It's always look ahead."

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That philosophy helped Moran turn one of her life's biggest tragedies into triumph.

"A lot of what I went through, I did so much praying and just hoping for the best and praying for the best," Moran said.

In 1994, she was a young Army wife with one small child and another on the way, when her husband was gunned down outside a Fayetteville nightclub.

She became a single mom, working at a fast food drive-in with only a high school diploma. She struggled with depression, but through her faith and sheer desire, she refused to give up, and raised her two children while going to college.

She earned a bachelor degree, a masters and now a doctorate, and taught her two sons a powerful life lesson.

"My son, my youngest son said 'Mom, If you can do it then I can do it, too,' " she recalled.

And that's the message the soon-to-be Dr. Maria Moran wants to teach others who are struggling with life's problems. Never, she says, give up.

"Never give up on you dreams, on what you want," she implored. "Don't just say you are going to do it, get out there and do it!"

It may sound simple, but Moran knows first-hand it is not, but it's a lesson she freely shares.

"I've gotten some people to go back to school because of what I am doing," Moran said. "They see me and say 'if she can do it, I can do it,' I love that! I want them to prove themselves."

Her husband, Richard, is buried at Fort Bragg, and every year, she and her sons place flowers on his grave. She's made sure they got to know their dad through photos and scrapbook memories.

And May 13, she graduates from Liberty University. She hopes to become a college professor, and to write a book.

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