I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and lived in the same house all my life until I went away to college. After working on my bachelor’s degree for three years, my parents divorced and my mom was emotionally struggling in a very debilitating way. I still had a younger brother at home and a sister who was mentally handicapped, so I took a sabbatical from college to go home and help stabilize things. My plan was to stay at home for a year then return to complete my senior year.
I got a full-time job at an insurance company and took a night class each semester I was home. But after being home for 6 months I met someone who forever changed my life… someone who helped me see things through rose colored glasses, who was optimistic and fun and accomplished and believed in me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I began dating this person and life was good – except I wanted to complete the goal of obtaining my bachelor’s degree at an out of state university. I had 19 college credits left at that point, and I thought that if I could re-apply and get back in to college for one semester and complete my remaining classes, I would be able to graduate and then return to Arizona to resume my life there. So, I reapplied and was accepted. I then registered for all the classes I needed. But something disheartening happened – I only got into a couple of the needed classes.
After a period of time I came to the conclusion that I was not meant to return to college at that time. Over the months ahead I fell deeply in love with the man I was dating, and months later he became my husband. When we married, he had only one more semester before his degree would be complete, and so I continued to work full time while he finished and then graduated with high honors. He got a job and then I got pregnant. I got busy with my new role as a mother and somewhat forgot about my college degree. There really weren’t online courses back then and I just wasn’t quite sure how I could finish, so I ignored the whole idea and involved myself in a number of other distractions including projects, my church, other volunteer opportunities, and of course my growing family.
Over the course of the next 14 years I had 5 more children, making 6 in all – and all boys. Our family also moved to Illinois during that time. But over those years I continued to have a desire to complete my goal of obtaining my bachelor’s degree. I decided when my youngest entered school I would re-enter the college world via online classes. At one point, I was out west and made an appointment with a counselor and found that all my classes could be completed online with the exception of one that they were willing to “contract” an exchange of a similar class at a local university. And so my journey back began.
I was very busy with my kids in a variety of schools and the many other things I had filled my life with, so one class a semester was my goal. I greatly enjoyed being back in the collegiate saddle again and looked forward to my studies and assignments. One by one I completed the classes with all going rather smoothly…until we had a house fire.
I had just completed all the assignments for one of my classes and all that was left was the final exam – and I lost most of my coursework that would help me study for it! I received an extension on taking the final, and eventually took the test, completing the class. But I had to take another hiatus from my remaining classes – the fire and subsequent 11 months we were removed from our home while it was being rebuilt required all my energy. That year passed, so filled with chaos that I hardly thought of my college classes.
My oldest son challenged me
Then my oldest son approached me – he was beginning his final two semesters in college and challenged me to finish my remaining classes and walk with him in graduation! I took on the challenge! I would need to take two classes one semester and one in the other, but I was determined to do it! And do it I did! I cannot express my pure joy when with my husband and all my boys present, I walked across that stage, receiving my degree alongside my son! It was worth all the effort and perseverance, amidst the setbacks that seemed to want to steal away my dream.
Never stop reaching for your dreams!
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