Mara Schiavocampo on her mom hero

May 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM ET

Courtesy of Mara Schiavocampo /
My mom, and hero, Hazel McFerson

When I'm asked why I admire my mom, I could share countless reasons that have to do with me. I could recount how dedicated she was when I was growing up: how she got me up in the morning and fixed my breakfast; how she dropped me off at the bus stop and was home when I got back in the afternoon; how she lovingly put me down for my nap each day; how she made birthday cakes and Halloween costumes and later my prom dress.

I could share how dedicated she continues to be: cooking my favorite meal when I visit; taking the bus back and forth from D.C. to New York to see her new grandaughter; buying me random gifts; mailing me articles she's cut out of the newspaper, even though I keep reminding her that she could just e-mail them.

But some of the biggest reasons I admire my mom have nothing to do with me. They are about her.
My mom has a humble background. She grew up in the projects in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. Though my grandmother, a housekeeper, worked hard to support her three children, they still struggled. I recently asked my mom just how tough her childhood was. "We were dirt poor," she responded plainly.

NBC Correspondent Mara Schiavocampo, had her first child, a daughter, in December.

Through it all, my mom was smart and always enjoyed school. With the help of loans and grants she went to college, got her Master's degree, and then her Ph.D. She met and married my father and had three children. She worked as a professor before taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom. When we got a little older she went back to work and is today a full tenured professor at one of the nation's top universities.

She has traveled the world and lived in several countries. She created a warm and loving home for her family. She has reached the highest professional levels. She started with little, and now has everything. I admire my mom for what she's accomplished, and for being the woman and mother she continues to be.

TODAY Moms is searching for mom heroes. Do you know one? Tell us about her, and you could win a great Mother's Day prize package. Click here to enter our Mom Hero contest (through noon ET, May 3).