Monday, June 8, 2009

Looking Toward the Future by Reflecting on the Past

Thirteen years, what can one person do in thirteen years? A child can start kindergarten and complete his high school career in thirteen years. A college student can earn a bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree in thirteen years. It has taken me thirteen years to follow one of my lifetime goals of graduating from college. The road to get here hasn’t been an easy one. Now that I have reached my goal I am scared beyond belief of what the future holds for me.
Immediately after high school I decided to go to the local community college. My very first semester I took American Government along with 2 other classes at Citrus College. While I was enrolled in my first semester of college I found out that I was pregnant. I was eighteen, unmarried, and pregnant. I dropped out of my classes because I thought that this was my fate. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant I married my boyfriend Shawn. We were eighteen and no one thought that there was a way in the world we would make it.
When my son turned six months old I decided to try out college once again. I reenrolled at Citrus College. My husband and I took classes side by side. I managed to make it through the semester with decent grades. I took many online classes so that I could be a stay at home mom of my young son. My grades got worse and worse as the classes that I took became harder and harder. I made it through two years of part time classes before was excused from Citrus for having too many F’s. I thought that was it.
My husband decided that he was also tired of school so he took a job as a trash man in Big Bear and our family of three moved up the hill to start a new life. My husband had complete all of his general education classes but thought that this job was a great opportunity, so off we went. We lived in Big Bear for six months before my husbands thirst for knowledge and tiredness of being a trash man moved us back down the hill to Monrovia. Shortly after gave birth to our second son.
My husband started at Cal Poly Pomona and I became the bread winner for the family. I worked a retail management job to put my husband through school. I worked nights and weekends away from my children in hopes that when my husband graduated, life would change as we knew it. It took two years of me working and my husband going to school twenty plus units a quarter for him to graduate. In June 2003 he graduated with a degree in Agriculture.
For the first time in my life I realized that I wanted that degree. It didn’t matter what it took, I wanted to complete a degree. At the same time I realized that a degree in a specific area doesn’t guarantee you will work in that field. My husband’s degree was almost useless except for teaching, which wasn’t something he really wanted to do. My husband found a job and I was able to go back to school and being a full time mom to my two boys.
For the first time in my college career I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to breeze through classes like I had done all through high school. I was going to have to earn my degree. I kept taking classes nights and weekends while my husband was able to stay at home with our two sons. I enrolled at two community colleges in order to get the classes that I would need to transfer to Cal Poly. I didn’t even know what I wanted my major to be. I just knew to keep taking the general education classes and transfer. Somewhere in the midst off all of my classes, my husband and I welcomed our third son. Married life with three kids just got harder and harder but I just kept trucking.
It was my last semester at Chaffey College and I took a ceramics class. I had taken ceramics for two years in high school and loved it but never thought of it as a potential career. While I was enrolled in the class I remembered how much I loved clay. I immediately applied to Cal Poly and was accepted to start my degree in ceramics in the fall of 2007. I got a letter from Cal Poly the summer before I was supposed to start at the school. Cal Poly had cancelled all of its art classes except for graphic design. What was I going to do? I decided to apply to California State University San Bernardino and I got accepted as a ceramics major. I had done no research on the school’s art program it was simply the closest one to my house.
In the fall of 2007 I started at California State University San Bernardino. I was so scared. I felt totally out of my league. What was I doing majoring in art? I wasn’t an artist. My first semester at Cal State I kept to myself, my main goal was just doing well in my classes. I would go home do my homework, and be a great wife and mom. My second quarter I started to get to know people in my major and I joined the ceramics club on campus. I started to find my niche. I was being challenged in my art and loved going to school. I will admit that it started to get overwhelming as this was the first time I had done full time classes in my college career.
My third quarter at school started to feel much more natural. I became Vice President of the clay club and had more and more friends from school. As I took on more at school, my home life took a toll. My marriage and kids were great but keeping up with laundry, cleaning, yard work, etc. became more than I could handle most days. I just kept plucking away with my classes and did my best to be a great homemaker. I would read and write papers in between loads of laundry, my children’s homework, entertaining a two year old, and all of my other duties.
This is my final quarter at California State University. In the last year I have been in school art shows, was elected president of the clay club, and continued to grow as a woman, artist, mom, and wife. I truly had always hoped that I would make it to this point but in the back of my mind never thought I would actually be where I am today. On June 20th I will be walking at my college graduation with a degree in studio arts and I am in awe that it is really happening. On one hand I am thrilled and on the other I am terrified for what the future holds for me.
In September I will be returning to California State San Bernardino to continue my college career. I will be spending the next year working on my single subject teaching credential in art. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I know that I am strong and I can handle anything that comes my way. Graduating from college is the ultimate way to prove that I can do anything. Things do not change, we change. That is my new motto. I am nothing like the person who started college thirteen years ago. There is not a chance that girl would be where I am today. I am very lucky to have a supporting husband and amazing kids who have allowed me to go to college and prove to the world that I can do this.
As I look back it brings a little tear to my eye. I achieved a goal that many people don’t ever make. I, the person who started out as a stupid young girl, have become an amazing woman. It may have taken me thirteen years to do what some people do in four. In those thirteen years I have stayed married to a wonderful man. I have been a great mom to my three boys, and have learned so much through my experiences of being a parent. I put my husband through college, and he now has a great job that he loves. We were even fortunate enough to have purchased a home. Many days the laundry is piled in the hallway and kid’s toys are spread throughout the house, but I now know that come with the roll I have as a parent and student. Most importantly I have taken this time to figure out who I am, and I think figuring out who you are for most people takes a lifetime. I consider the last thirteen years very well spent and I can’t wait to see what the next thirteen years brings for me.

I had to write this paper as an assignment for a class and I thought that it would be nice to share with all of you since all of you have been there ans supported us the entire way though all of this.
Ali

1 comment:

Tiny said...

jeanne4momsclub@hotmail.com