Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why I'm in College

Besides the literature class I'm also taking a public speaking class and I just thought I'd share a speech we had to do about why we're in college.  That's pretty much it... there's nothing else I really feel the need to explain.

My journey through college has proven to be a very interesting adventure. I graduated from high school in 2007 convinced that my future was in nursing. I had completed the health occupations class at my county BOCES, successfully passed my C.N.A exam, and found great joy in being state senior vice-president of Health Occupation Students of America.

I started my freshman year excited about being away from home at SUNY Delhi. I found my place in a great group of fun loving Long Island girls (My friend, Lindsay rocked the hair bump long before Snooki ever did) and I enjoyed my classes. Halfway through the semester I ended up with pneumonia and missed 2 weeks of classes. Having missed clinical I was told I had to either drop the program or fail and the anatomy teacher made me take 2 tests and 2 lab practicals within a week and a half. At the end of the semester he smirked at me while he said “You know, I’m surprised that you didn’t fail.”

Two years and a failed community college session later I decided to move to Buffalo. In that time I floated between a few majors ranging from biology teaching to dental hygiene. The rest of my time was filled with taking care of my grandmother and not being able to find employment. I also struggled with my father’s illness and surgeries. Between the ages of 17 and 21 my dad had a foot of his colon removed, cancer cells removed from his bladder, 3 months with a temporary ileostomy, open heart surgery to replace a valve, and 2 twisted bowel surgeries. Overall I was stressed and just needed to get away. Six weeks after moving to Buffalo I had a job and an apartment, and I was loving being at ECC. I love being in the business program, and my grades reflect this. I’m excited to transfer and hope to have my M.B.A. completed within the next 3 to 4 years.

I could have just given up and not gone back to school. Right now I could be working as a C.N.A, perhaps working on my L.P.N. It’s much easier to quit. Really, how much effort does it take to say “Well, maybe someday I’ll go back” or “School just isn’t for me”? If that’s the case why didn’t I quit?

First and foremost I owe it to my parents to build on and improve the life they gave me. Neither of my parents have college degrees. After high school my father joined the air force and is lucky that in his line of work Vietnam veterans are given priority to stay on. Many of his coworkers have lamented how great of a worker he is and how he knows so much about the line of work, but he can only advance so far without a degree. If he hadn’t been a veteran my dad would have been laid off from his job at the age of 64. Because my mother is 9 years younger than him he needs to stay on with a job that has health insurance. What jobs are out there for a 64 year old man with no college degree?

My mother attended Alfred and ECC and chose to drop out to pursue a job as a seamstress when she was one year away from completing her R.N. degree. She deeply regrets not completing it even though she had no interest in working as a nurse. 30 years later her credits are worthless, and even though she had more credits than an associate’s degree required the lack of completion keeps her from getting jobs that require an associate’s degree.

Both of my parents always pushed my sister and me to, at the very least, get a degree in something. Employers can argue experience, knowledge, or qualifications but they can’t argue with your degree. Secondly, I felt the need to prove to others that I can do things, and do them right. It would be great to go to my 10 year reunion and “stick it” to a few of the jerks who treated me poorly and acted like they were so much better, but that’s just a small and cynical part of me. Most of me proving myself is to make the people who had a positive impact on my life proud of my accomplishments. My health occupations teacher will matter-of-factly state that I was both her smartest and her laziest student. I know this because when I went back to talk to her class about the importance of staying in school she felt the need to point that out to them. I coasted through high school with the ability to be at the top of my class, but no motivation to be there.

Now that I’m almost 24 I’ve had time to mature and realize that I can be and deserve to be where my capabilities can put me. It’s not about potential, it’s about actuality. People can have the potential to be a doctor, or physicist, or president,… or criminal, or mass murderer, or drug lord of a feared cartel. Your potential doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t act on it, whether it be for good or for bad.

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