‘I feel like I owe so much to her’: Inspiring motherhood story comes full circle at Gonzaga

SPOKANE, Wash. — This Mother’s Day story started with a scholarship and a surprise. Now, 20-years later, it’s coming full circle.

Oftentimes, parenthood can stand in the way of reaching your goals, but Tria Bullard didn’t let that happen to her.

“I was getting ready to choose the dorm that I was going to live in for my freshman year when I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant. So that definitely changed my life,” Tria Bullard told us.

Thankfully, Gonzaga let Tria hold her scholarship for a year, and when her daughter Sydney was 9-months old, they made the move to Spokane.

“Life was very different for me a single mom, coming to Gonzaga, with a baby,” Tria explained.

For her though, there was no doubt about it- she was going to get her degree.

“That was never an option for me to not finish. It was something we persevered through and dealt with. She was an amazing child,” Tria said.

18-years later, that amazing child is following in her footsteps.

“It is incredible what she did. All the hard work that she put in, for me to be here, for herself to be here and for me to be in the positions I am in now. I feel like I owe so much to her,” said Sydney Rains, her daughter.

It wasn’t an easy road, but Tria made it work.

“When she was sick, I had to beg my professor to let me bring her to class because she wasn’t able to go to daycare. She comes to class, and there’s a class full of students, and she’s sitting on my lap and babbling and laughing and talking to everyone and pointing at things. I told him you were sick and you’re acting perfectly fine,” Tria remembered, laughing.

This was a glimpse at the woman Sydney would become years down the road. “To this day, she’s still charismatic, outgoing, and loves to talk to people,” Tria said.

When the time came for Sydney to consider college, Gonzaga was actually not on her radar.

“When I found out that I got in and was being offered a scholarship, that was when I started considering it a little more,” Sydney explained.

Sydney and Tria paid a visit to the campus, where their journey together started.

“It was really surreal driving back here with her and as soon as I came here, and we drove right on campus that night, I just felt right at home,” Sydney recalled.

They both come from a small, rural, low-income community outside the Dalles.

“She literally had 3 hurdles in track. She practiced on a grass and wheat field, not even a real track, so there were a lot of disadvantages,” Tria said, laughing.

“Being able to come to a school like Gonzaga, and persevere through those obstacles, we had different obstacles, but we shared many as well. It was really beautiful and my mom’s hard work was a testament through it all that I can do this and I deserve to be here,” Sydney said.

She doesn’t just deserve to be there, she’s become a leader there. As she heads into her senior year, next year, she’ll be leading the college as VP of Student Body.

“I think she’s proven that despite the circumstances she grew up in, she’s able to come to Gonzaga and be extremely successful and she’s had such a tremendous impact on the community here and has met so many amazing people that now she’s confident in her own ability to be a leader and to inspire others,” Tria proudly said.

” Now I’m at Gonzaga, surrounded by so many talented, bright, inspiring people to know I am still able to pursue leadership in the capacity that I am now is really validating to me,” Sydney explained.

On this Mother’s Day, they’re eternally proud of each other for letting nothing stand in their way.

“Knowing that my mom was here before me, it’s really an honor to carry her story on in my own ways. I love bragging about my mom to everybody. I go through the yearbooks here and try to find photos of my mom,” Sydney said.

“It was all truly meant to be I think,” Tria said.

READ: Send us photos of your mom for Mother’s Day