Even us old folks can graduate college…

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If I can do it, anyone can do it!

So, today is the hooding ceremony for 2015 graduates of Northeastern University, College of Professional Studies, with the graduation ceremony being held tomorrow.  I am one of those graduates, but I am not in Boston this week for graduation.  It isn’t for lack of desire to be there; circumstances did not allow me to travel there for my graduation.  I am okay with that, however.  They can mail me my diploma.  Had I been able to go, this would have marked a HUGE milestone in my life.  Well, it is still a huge milestone, regardless of my ability to attend the ceremony.  I’ve considered on several occasions the possibility of writing a memoir of my life journey.  But, it would bore people to tears most likely.  (except for the juicy parts!)

Why am I writing about this today?  Graduating from college is a big deal and this week, even though I cannot be there in person, I am so excited for myself along with everyone else–but mostly for me!  I am a nontraditional college student.  I started out 20+ years ago immediately after graduating high school, with the intention of becoming a chemical engineer.  I have always held math and science close to my heart.  I did not finish that path, however.  My education was interrupted by family life and my own choices.

Fast-forward to 2010.  December 10, 2010, was a Friday.  I remember it quite vividly. The company for which I worked.  The people with whom I worked.  I even remember the details of certain job-related activities that day (I was collecting an item from a customer who was severely past due, accompanied by law enforcement).  I absolutely hated that job.  But it, along with the personal tragedy that changed my life that year, taught me more about myself than the previous 20 years had.  I had to face my own demons and, believe me, they all came out at that time.  It was a real awakening experience for me.  After another horrible morning at this job, I made the absolute best decision of my life that day.  When I clocked out for lunch, I went immediately to the local community college and enrolled in school–full time.  I called the job and quit over the phone.  (I would not recommend that method, especially if one will need a good referral.) I did not care about burning any bridges, though.  I was tired of being in dead-end jobs, most of which had been in customer service.

I am not belittling customer service at all. I was good at it.  I liked people and they liked me and I could do just about anything in that industry.  It is good, honest work even with the relatively low wages. But it was not for me any longer.  I knew that I had something inside me that was better than what I was doing with my life.  I knew that I was smarter than what my employers were using me for.  And I was tired of being viewed as unintelligent among those who were my superiors.  They were no better than I, so why was I feeling this way? It was because I had to realize that I needed to prove to no one but MYSELF that I could do this.

Well, almost 5 years later, and I am now literally moments away from being a college graduate.  It has not been easy.  It has been challenging.  I have moved 4 times, transferred schools and changed majors, got married, and even worked full time.  I also have maintained 3.4+ GPA for this entire time.  I am tooting my own horn, but right now I believe I deserve it.  I also had tremendous support from my entire family, including my children–two of whom are in college now too, with one following in a couple years.  I am hoping that this story reaches others out there struggling with a decision like mine.

I graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Studies this year.  I plan to continue on next Fall for a graduate degree.

I did it.

You can too.

I am 44 years old.

 

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