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.