Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I actually graduated from college! This accomplishment has caused me to look back at this long journey to where I am today.
I started my college education officially in 1994, but my preparation started long before that. First, my dad was my example. He got a bachelor's and master's degree. Also, my mom went back to school and got an associates' degree. Next, I took college prep courses in high school and maintained a high GPA, always planning to attend a university someday in the future. Once I graduated high school, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do however and I put off applying to colleges for a year. I kept myself pretty busy that next year learning to be an independent adult with a car purchase and a couple jobs as well as a few community college courses on the side, not to mention a wonderful year of memories with my high school boyfriend Jody!
As that year came to a close, I began to make preparations to go to college. I looked into a few schools and finally settled on Brigham Young University. I applied for scholarships and had saved some money but wasn't sure how I was going to do it all. I am grateful for the help of my parents who let me live at home rent-free and save up for school and also my seminary teacher who guided me toward a scholarship opportunity. I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and decided to be a music major. I loved my college experience but was unable to test into the music major since my theory knowledge was severely lacking despite my desire. I chose another major but still did what I could to pursue music on the side, performing when I could, trying out for performing groups, taking music and dance courses and also taking voice lessons. The experience at college was not only extremely fun but it was also enlightening. I grew spiritually and matured as I came to depend more and more on myself. I also managed to make new friends as I worked and kept up a high grade point average, too.
The next year, I went back to BYU as a sophmore. I came home after the first semester and prepared for a mission. I again saved up money while living at home rent-free and took off for Italy later that year (Thanks for your help Mama and Poppi)! And that was a life-altering experience for me which needs it's own blog to document! I came back and set off to finish out my sophmore year. By then, I was also trying to form a band with my brother and sister and also got married. Within a short time, I became a full-time mom to my daughter, Ashlyn and then moved to Arizona. My education was again put on hold. Music and Mothering were my two jobs, but something kept pushing me toward thoughts about finishing my degree.
One day while I was at church, I came across a flyer "Finish what you started at BYU" - I knew this was the opportunity I was looking for! I chose Psychology as my major and entered as a Junior although I was lacking many major classes. I would take it one class at a time and work on my degree from home while trying to also be in the band, a performing group in Tucson, and also be a homemaker, wife and mother. I felt driven and hopeful. I also loved my studies and looked forward to each class and the opportunity to learn. Shortly after I had begun, I got pregnant and had my second child, my son Cooper. Just weeks later, I moved to Mesa. My studies slowed down as I struggled to get a grip on my life and deal with postpartum anxiety, but I kept plugging along.
Then as I continued to perform in the band and mother my kids, I also began major therapy to overcome some emotional issues I had from childhood. This was very taxing to me and I felt overwhelmed with everything on my plate. Ironically, performing in the band was never a stress to me. For me, music has always been this way. Instead of being a burden, it lifts and eases my burdens and fills me up. It actually most likely helped me cope with all I was coping with in my life, as well as keep going with my studies. Being a parent is also stressful, but my kids were little rays of light to me at that time. I was able to feel great joy and connection with them and relish my role in nurturing them throughout their infancy. My studies also were, at times, a refuge. It was an area where I could excel and where I felt my mind expand. It was something I could be successful at when all around me was failure, stress, guilt, sadness, worry and disappointment especially as my divorce took place. This took the cake in the stress department.
Shortly after was moving twice, remarriage to my high school sweetheart and moving one more time, not to mention all the happenings in between. Somehow, I still managed to get my studying in and one by one, I kept whittling down my courses. Once my kids were in school full-time, I was able to complete courses more rapidly, but I also took the summers off so that I could put my whole self into being a mom while the kids were out of school and a new stepmom while my stepdaughter, Sarah was visiting. In the last year or two of my studies, I doubled up my classes and really booked it. This last summer I didn't take off. Instead I completed my last two or three courses and made my kids sit at home! They played Nintendo DS quite a bit and I totally hogged the computer! Haha! We did swim occasionally and got out regularly, but by and large my focus was on finishing.
It took a long time, but I finally did it... I really actually did it! I thank my husband and family, the staff at BYU - who walked me through so much and encouraged me along the way, and the grace of God... and anyone else who encouraged me, helped me and prayed for me so that I could focus on my studies and take my exams and do my best - (I got mostly A's and a few B's). And I did not do this without a lot of prayer at times as well! It has been a long journey and I am glad I accomplushed something that was so important to me. I have learned a lot about plugging away at something even though it takes a long time and how you will eventually reach your destination if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't give up.
Next, I will be focusing on having this baby and relishing in her infancy and the new life she is beginning with us. And then hopefully a master's degree later on!