Re-posted with permission from http://nontradsincollege.com/blog/scott
Standing in an airport waiting for the plane that would take me back to a hometown and a place I despised, it occurred to me that I was a twenty-year-old adult with a barely completed high school education, with no money and no future. “What now?” I thought.
My journey into the academic world has been a long one. From elementary school into high school, academics were never a priority. Growing up in severe poverty and having to work to support my family, school work was low on my priority list. When I was in the fourth grade, I experienced a severe ear infection that resulted in the complete loss of my hearing for two years. This resulted in me being held back due to the amount of school I had missed. When I entered high school, my mother developed very serious health issues that required prolonged hospitalizations. In between hospitalizations, and as the youngest of six siblings who was the only remaining one at home, the responsibility to care for mother fell solely on my shoulders. My mother eventually passed away shortly before the end of my junior year.
After high school and faced with few other options, I decided that I would enlist in the U.S. Army. From my perspective, and for the first time in my life, I would be provided with the opportunity to receive an education, as well as food, clothing, and a paycheck. My life, I thought, had finally begun to take shape. Unfortunately, my plans for a military career were cut short after I suffered a serious back injury on a training mission that eventually resulted in an honorable discharge. Standing in an airport waiting for the plane that would take me back to a hometown and a place I despised, it occurred to me that I was a twenty-year-old adult with a barely completed high school education, with no money and no future. “What now?” I thought.
After a few months of feeling sorry for myself, I ended up taking job at a mom-and-pop home improvement store. Shortly afterwards, I met and married a woman, had a child, and bought a house. Life was moving fast. Professionally, my career at the hardware store had gained momentum. I received several promotions and eventually left the company for a better opportunity with a larger home improvement chain.
Several years and two kids later, and realizing the need for an education to further my career, I enrolled at Empire State College with the goal of a business degree. After a successful first semester, and surprised at my success, I was excited that I was finally in a position to be able to achieve my long awaited academic success. But the realities of family life and the lack of support eventually lead to me withdrawing from school.
Fast forward several years and in a new career, I once again found myself in a position where the need for an education was evident. Encouraged by my previous, but shorted lived academic success, I decided to enroll at Hudson Valley Community College. Although I experienced a medical issue that required me to miss a semester, I eventually graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services. Immediately after graduation, I applied and was accepted into the Social welfare program at the University at Albany.
As I enter my final semester and prepare for graduate school, I am somewhat surprised that I have made it this far. While I do recognize the many obstacles I have overcome to get to this point, and while some would give credit to my harsh upbringing and the discipline I received in the military, I really need to give all the credit to my wife who has made it all possible. Her support, patience, encouragement, and sacrifice have made my academic success all possible. I also need to give credit to God, and to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, who have provided me with the wisdom, strength, and fortitude to keep going when I wanted to quit.
Working and going to school full time and managing the daily dramas of family life is not easy. In fact, it’s been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. I would also suggest to you that without support and encouragement from family, friends, and the academic community, it’s just about impossible.
I tell this story not for sympathy or for praise, but to offer hope and encouragement to other students to keep going when they face the inevitable adversities and challenges of life.
“Success is never found. Failure is never fatal. Courage is the only thing.” – Winston Churchill