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.