Another milestone has been reached; one that I thought would take longer than it has. Though my initial plan would have taken me only 6 months to accomplish, the circumstances that arose upon first arriving led me to concede that it would take over a year. But being so dissatisfied in my employment situation, I rallied together all of the resourcefulness I had, leading me back to my original plan (or at least a version of it): returning to school for Spring 2011.
Before moving to Murfreesboro, I had returned to school as a full time student. In the planning to move across the country, I allocated a one semester hiatus in order to establish residency and save up some money to pay for tuition that once was paid through grants. I thought I had forfeited my eligibility for financial aid through some of the decisions that were made in the moving process. In my desperate desire to get back to school, somehow- someway, I began dreaming about where I’d like to attend here in TN. I started to look at programs and schedules and tuition costs. I began to think outside the box. I made calls. Through these seemingly “pie-in-the-sky” hopes, I learned that I was still eligible for financial aid. Now doors of opportunity were opening.
The Spring semester had already begun and attending locally was not going to happen. Sometimes, going back is the way to go forward. I contacted Rio Salado College, the community college I attended in Phoenix that specializes in distance learning. Knowing that classes begin every Monday and being familiar with the interface, I knew I could start in March and still finish by the end of May. Within two weeks, my employment had terminated; and I was back in school.
I love being in school. I have such an appreciation for learning that I didn’t have when I was younger. I enjoy the process of learning. I find ways to challenge myself beyond just learning the material. It’s almost a game. “How quickly can I finish a semester’s worth of work? How close can I get to receiving 100% in the class?” (Maybe that is a little too much insight into the twisted inner workings of my perfectionist mind . . . I don’t know . . .)
I have always looked at education as something valuable and life enhancing; but after having completed the required reading for my ENG 102 class, The Freedom Writers Diary, the beauty of education resonates within. The book represents a four year journey of self-discovery by 150 students and their teacher. The students candidly express their personal hardships- drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, domestic abuse, being stereotyped and feared, gangs- as they mature into responsible, community-minded adults. The journey that each student took was made through the vehicle of education.
Education is often undervalued by the youth and devalued by the adults who failed to value it in their youth. But education itself and the knowledge that one can learn how to learn are priceless things that open up endless opportunities. Education pushes back boundaries and removes glass ceilings. It does not remove challenge, but teaches one to move forward through the challenge.
I am incredibly grateful that higher education is available to me, that it affords me the ability to be home to do the “mom thing”, and that I can work hard to accomplish something that is forever mine.