It’s here. Finally.
I know it’s nothing spectacular, and nothing amazing, but it’s something, and something I earned. It’s the first of more to come. It’s the first big step down on a very long and trying path. I got a degree. It may not be an impressive or even specific one, but it’s a degree, and it’s the first step in the right direction.
Now, I’m faced with another decision. I was accepted into the biological sciences BS program, but I’m thinking of switching to the BA program. The BA has all of the prereqs I need for medical school, and I can do it all on the peninsula. I don’t have to move to Anchorage for a semester or worry about any of that craziness. I can do it all here, and then apply to med school in portland when I finish. There’s also the time advantage. I could likely finish the BA in three semesters if I plan it well.. The BS would take me at least five more semesters.
I’m torn. I know a BS looks better because it’s more in-depth, but unfortunately, a BS would put much more strain on me and my family, financially and geographically. Odds are, I’ll apply for the BA at the end of this semester and see where it takes me.
For now, I’m nervous. I have a degree now. The next step, is to get the bachelor’s, whether it’s a BA or BS, I just need to get it… Then, I wait. I wait to see if the medical school gods deem me as “good enough” to be admitted into their program. It makes me feel so anxious. I worry that perhaps I’m overestimating myself… Maybe I’m not as smart as I’ve been led to believe. Sometimes when I’m especially anxious, I wonder who I think I’m kidding when I say I want to be a physician.
I guess only time will tell. All I can do for now is keep chugging along.
There is one thing I am incredibly proud of. No, it’s not my kids, despite how amazingly in love and proud of them I am. But, anyone can have kids. Not everyone can do what I have done in regards to my education.
In a way it’s funny. So many people had their bets against me. I got pregnant my junior year of high school. I was married that same year and gave birth the same month my senior year started. Everyone was betting against my marriage, my future and my education. I don’t think anyone really thought I’d make it through. Everyone assumed I’d do what I was already doing and what most other young moms do; drop out and never look back.
But I didn’t.
At the time I found myself pregnant I had already dropped out, but my pregnancy really opened my eyes. I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going but I knew it wasn’t going to be where I saw so many other girls with no diploma, no GED, an entry-level job, living off of assistance and lucky if their baby’s dad stuck around, let alone married them.
I didn’t want that and that wasn’t going to be me.
I re-enrolled in school. I started with home school in the summer. I caught up all the credits I had missed and started working on the ones I had left. Then I went back to public school. I hated every minute of it, but I dragged myself through it. I walked the block and a half to SoHi every day. I left my classes barfing my brains out on more than one occasion. My teachers knew I was pregnant. I could tell they were trying not to make a spectacle of it, but they did with obvious special treatment; no hall pass needed for my morning sickness runs. I barely made it through the semester. At that point, I was obviously pregnant and I just didn’t think I had it in me to keep going. I switched back to home school full time. By the time I had my daughter, I only needed three more classes. I finished those three classes at Kenai Alternative. I spent seven weeks, riding the bus there at 7 in the morning with a brand new baby, dealing with breastfeeding discrimination, and trying my best to keep up while my head was swimming in demerol and dilaudid. Even so, I did it. I finished an entire semester before I was originally supposed to and I walked at graduation the following May.
I see people who make excuses about why they didn’t want to, couldn’t or wouldn’t finish high school or get their GED, but really, there are very few real reasons not to. It isn’t easy. I’ll agree there, but your education isn’t something you should expect to be handed to you. You have to work for it. If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth being proud of, would it?
I spent the next year in marital hell.
My husband and I, like most young couples weren’t doing so hot. We had a lot of problems and looking back, I don’t know who or what caused them. We were both to blame in our own ways. We were young, selfish and we didn’t know each other the way we should have before we decided to get married, let alone have a baby. Dan and I separated that summer. I had no idea what to do. I was sitting in the living room of my apartment, upset and crying after getting off of the phone with Dan. I asked Derick to drive me to get the rest of my stuff from Dan’s place, but he needed to stop by the college for something on the way. I don’t know what he was doing, but Maddi and I ended up wandering around the commons. A lady with dark hair started talking to me and I don’t really know what happened but the next thing I knew, I was registered for classes.
Of course, my immature behavior and lazy attitude got the best of me and my first semester of college was my worst.
Dan and I were too chaotic and I didn’t have a license. I couldn’t drive and I couldn’t take care of my own needs. I completely flopped that semester and I was lucky it didn’t turn out worse than it did. Thankfully, Dan and I mellowed out, started to enjoy the company of one another and began to really build on, work on, and strengthen our marriage. We found out that same semester we were expecting our second child. I decided to keep going to school, but chose my classes a little wiser that semester. It worked out and for the first time ever, I made Chancellor’s list with all A’s and one B.
I continued school and for the most part, I did well. Until the fall semester my appendix decided to go boom. For the second time in my life, I was learning that algebra and morphine don’t mix well. Even so, I continued going that spring semester, took the summer off and then decided that I needed a longer break and decided to sit out fall semester. I was stressed. Newly pregnant yet again, and decided that I needed the time to focus on my doula and childbirth educator certifications. I did just that and the picked school back up the following spring semester.
During that semester, I was taking 13 credits. I took the bare minimum to be considered full-time and despite the guidance counselor urging me not to come back that semester because my baby was due to be born two months into the semester, I did it anyways. And guess what? It was the first semester I ever made all A’s. I made all A’s, traveled five hours from home, sat in a hotel for three weeks and had an all natural vaginal birth after two prior cesareans and made all A’s that semester. I didn’t take easy classes either.
No one has an excuse now. If I can do it in the midst of that situation, no one has an excuse.
At this point, I decided I was done taking breaks. I wasn’t skipping summers anymore. I took part-time during the summer and went full-time the following fall at 19 credits.
And now? I graduate.
I get my first college degree in December of 2011. As you can see from this documentation of my academic history, it hasn’t been easy. People talk to me about school and tell me that I’m “lucky to be smart,” but it has nothing to do with luck. I wasn’t any smarter than those people are at one point in my life, but I put forth the effort, I did the work and I learned and grew from the experience. It has nothing to do with just “being smart.” Sure, having a natural inclination can help, but if you have the will and the desire, then you can do it. If you don’t, then stop making excuses as to why you can’t, won’t, shouldn’t or couldn’t. I really hate hearing it. I wasn’t any better than most of my peers when I was in high school, and now I am. Not because I’m full of myself, but because I didn’t give up and I did the work. That’s all there is to it.
I am beyond proud of myself for this accomplishment. I know an associates of arts isn’t a huge deal. It’s just a general study program, however, I am beyond thrilled that I will be the first of my siblings with a college degree. I am beyond thrilled that I will be one of the very few people my age I know with a college degree. I am amazed that I will be the only girl my age who had kids in high school and now has a college degree.
It means a lot to me, but it should. After all, I worked my ass off for it.
And this is only the first step.
I’m not done with just my associates. I applied to the bachelors of science in biological sciences and I was accepted. I couldn’t believe it. I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted, but I was. And now? It’s all downhill from here.
I can do this.
And no one can stop me.
My grandpa has been such an incredible influence in my life, especially considering how long he served as my parental figure and guardian. Sure, I remember feeling angry and annoyed with him all the time as a teenager and as a kid. As I got older, and even now, I’ve begun to see that he’s got faults, just like the rest of us, but he’s also an amazing man who has taught me more than I can ever describe. The more I grow and the more I mature, the more I realize that, “Yes, Papa. You were right.” If you know my grandpa, you know he loves to say “And what are those famous words I like to hear?” All in fun and teasing though. He’d never say it to be mean. And of course, I always half-roll my eyes and give him a sideways smile and comply, “You were right, Papa.”
One of those things I’m realizing now, even more so than ever, is that he was right when he told me to get an education. He told me “No one can ever take that away from you.”
When I was in high school, I either got all great grades, or I got all bad grades. I went back and forth between over-achieving and not caring. When I do well, I do extremely well. When I do poorly, I do extremely poor.
I have ADHD and OCD… Anyone with either of those conditions knows that individually, they’re horrific… But combined? They’re hell. If either one of them crops up more so than the other… It can be difficult. I find the most difficult of the two being the ADHD. I have a certain order, and routine I do things in. When I have issues concentrating, I can’t do these things and it stresses me out even more because I still have the compulsion to do these things in that order or routine, but I can’t focus long enough to do it.
Recently, I told my grandpa that it’s his fault. I get an 89% and I feel like I may as well have gotten an F. In my head, I know an 89% is good, but to me, it’s not good enough. Despite knowing it in my head, it doesn’t help how I feel about it. My teacher says to read a chapter… I read the chapter three times and write a 1-2 page paper on each section of the chapter. My teacher says to do even problems 1-100, I do them all.
That is how I keep myself so sharp. I’m not just smart naturally. Intelligent, sure. But being smart and knowing your books takes time, practice, memorization and application. I know this. And I know that if I want to retain what I’m learning, that this is what I have to do. Ultimately, these strange routines and habits pay off in the form of high test scores.
Back to my original thought though… My grandpa told me that no one can ever take my education away from me. He’s right. And although he never said it in words, he taught me that an education sets me apart from the rest of the world.
I know I’m not amazing. I know come December, I’ll only have an associate’s degree under my belt… But I’ve learned so much in my education pursuits… Not just regarding academia, but about how much people care, and what kind of effort they put into themselves and their lives. Before, it was just about getting by and hoping for something better… Now, it’s about being better, and doing what it takes to get there.
I can’t help but notice how different I am compared to the girls my age in similar situations… heck, even to just kids my age without kids.
Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few who have my head on tight.
Sorry if this was rambling or hard to follow. I’m just so scatterbrained today.
I can’t be content with things just the way they are.
I don’t mean that to sound ungrateful, or snobbish or anything else awful. What I mean, is that I can’t be content with how our life is now, forever.
We don’t have a bad life. We do well for our age, and exceptionally well for having had so many kids so young… But this isn’t all I want. I don’t want Dan to be stuck working retail. I don’t want to be stuck in a tiny fixer-upper forever. Sure, it works for now. But this isn’t what I want forever.
One thing I don’t think I will ever understand, is the people I see who are content living on the bottom rung. The people who have no desire to move up. It boggles my mind when I see people with little to no education, working a low-wage, entry-level job, living off of public assistance, and yet they’re content with it. Why don’t they want better? There’s nothing wrong with taking the help if you need it, but these people I’m talking about seem to be genuinely content with living like that for the rest of their lives.
Why not try to get a better job? Go to school? Get a certificate? Be something better and set an example for your kids. Stop being content with the bare minimum and strive for better. The best way to lead is by example. Is the way you’re living now what you want your kids to be content with when they’re grown? Is that all you want for them? Even if you’re content living that way, your kids still deserve better. At least try for them.
I’ll never understand it. Maybe it’s because I know I’ve made mistakes in my life. But maybe it’s just because “good enough” isn’t good enough for my kids.
I want them to have everything. And it’s up to me to give it to them.
I know an associate’s degree isn’t a big deal. It’s only a two year degree. It’s not a huge thing, but for me, I can’t help but be excited. I will have my associates by the end of fall semester… And that is something to be proud of, especially since most girls who have children young don’t finish high school. Let alone get a degree.
But I can’t help but get excited… I’ll be the first grandkid in my family with a degree… Even with having a baby in high school and getting married young. I’ll have done what others in my family didn’t do until much later… And then I’ll go above and beyond that achievement.
My associate’s degree is only step one. Step one of many more steps to come. I’m not sure exactly how many steps there are… but there’s several.
Join the military.
Serve my time.
Start my own practice.
It’s a long list of things to do…. but I’m close to being able to cross one thing off of the list. I’m achieving small things on the way towards my goal too… I’m a birth doula now and I got my childbirth education certification. I’m hoping by the end of this year I can apply to take the exam to become an lactation consultant. I should have enough college credits by then. I’ve been debating taking the EMT I class next spring just for fun.
It’s a long road, but I’m on my way. I know that I can do it. Doing it isn’t the hard part. Finding the patience and the time is.
So, I haven’t really been on here in a long time. I guess I’ve been busy… But with two kids, who isn’t?
So, where to start…?
First, I ended up going to see Dr. Elrod up in Wasilla and I love him! He’s the best doctor I’ve ever seen and I’m really confident that if my VBAC is possible (and it is) that it will happen without unnecessary force and pressure from a pushy intervention-happy doctor. I’m really happy with my choice and even though the drive sucks, it’s totally worth it.
Second, I took a semester off from school. I wanted to focus on some other things, so that’s what I did. In the meantime, I finished my certification as a childbirth educator. I’ve taught some private classes but have yet to set up a large group class. I want to, just waiting to hear back from people on space availability.
Third, I started writing freelance to earn up some money for a carseat for Maddi. I’ve earned enough for her carseat, and now I’m saving up for Danny’s carseat. Definitely a worthwhile purchase in my book. Just takes a little time. The carseats they have now work, but I want to keep them rearfacing longer and it won’t be long until they reach the limit on the seats we have currently. It’s a really neat program and I’ve enjoyed writing for them…especially considering that most of what I’ve wrote, I had to write eventually anyways; it just gave me a little motivation and incentive to do it sooner!
Fourth, I’ve been sewing… a lot. I’ve gotten pretty darn good at my diapers and have been experimenting with other styles, but I still love my pockets best. Lately, I’ve been making clothes a lot.
So as you can see, I’ve been getting pretty crafty. In the meantime, Dan’s been working on the bedroom trying to get that done before the new baby gets here.
So now it’s just a matter of getting drywall and then getting it in. I know how to mud, so that’s not a big deal but Dan has to do the drywall… I can’t lift the stuff. Hurts too much.
Fifth, Danny stopped nursing about two months ago, so he went to 16 months nursing! It’s most likely because of my milk supply tanking because of being pregnant. I’m glad he weaned himself though.
Sixth, Maddi started preschool in a special program for communication-delayed kids. She loves it and has so much fun!
And lastly, we found out that this baby is…
So, here name will be Averly and we’ll probably call her Ava or Avalee for a nickname.