When her son, Cameron, recently graduated with distinction from Gulfport High School, Miranda Day reaped the reward of years of dedication and sacrifice.
The proud mom explains that Cameron has overcome many challenges to reach this milestone, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a speech disability.
“He was born very premature; I was six-and-a-half months pregnant when I had him,” Day says. “He’s been a SPED (special education) student all his life.”
In addition to these struggles, being a single parent and sole provider for Cameron has been challenging for Day.
“It’s hard to be an advocate and take care of things while having to work, be head of household and make sure everything is on track,” she says, “because I have to do it all myself.”
“The fact that he tells me that he’s not afraid lets me know that I shouldn’t be afraid, either.”
To provide for Cameron and herself, Day works two jobs, often in the evenings and at night so she can be available to Cameron during the day if necessary. While she does not prefer to work nights, doing so has been a necessity, especially while Cameron was young.
“I had to work evenings because I wanted to make sure that I was able to be off during the daytime, just in case he needed me,” she says. “I had to take him to the doctor, or I needed to be at the school for a meeting.”
That left her the night to work while Cameron was asleep.
“I just do what I have to do,” Day says. “I’ve always done that. I’ve always put him first.”
Her sacrifice and dedication have propelled Cameron to success both in and out of the classroom. He’s very involved on the GHS campus, according to Day, and was the basketball manager for four years and on the bowling team for two years. Additionally, Cameron received the 2023 ACE Award from the Gulfport Exchange Club, which honors a senior who has overcome significant obstacles and challenges to graduate from high school.
Cameron also drives, an accomplishment Day says is almost unheard of for someone with his disabilities. While teaching him to drive was difficult, she says, it was important to her because of how it impacted his prospects for the future.
“When you learn how to drive, your independence is wide open,” Day explains. “You can do more things for yourself.”
Cameron’s next step toward independence will take him to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Perkinston campus, where he has earned an academic scholarship. After finishing at MGCCC, he plans to transfer to Mississippi State University to major in culinology.
“Every time I ask him if he’s ready, he says, ‘Yes.’ When I ask him if he’s scared, he says, ‘No ma’am,’” Day says. “The fact that he tells me that he’s not afraid lets me know that I shouldn’t be afraid, either.”
Instead, Day believes in her son and is optimistic about how far he can go in life.
“I hope he accomplishes all of his goals,” she says, “because that’s what I’m doing all of this for.”