About two years ago my husband got stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL and seven years ago I didn’t have the money to afford college. As a navy wife with no job and volunteering to fill my time I woke up one morning and decided to use the money the government would give me for being married to go to school. I chose the nearest college and campus, Florida State College at Jacksonville – South Campus.
Colleges have about the same schedule as grade school, but I had never had to register. I was a day late for the fall and had some issues getting MyCAA, Military Spouse Career Advancement Account, to coöperate with the school schedule and a hard time accessing their website. I would get everything, mostly, figured out and paid for and would take five classes in the spring. Things were going great; I advanced through math quickly, advanced in my writing skills, and was riding my bike 10 miles a day.
Summer came and I didn’t want to lose momentum so I kept on going. I would continue to keep this attitude, even after Obama cut my allowance by $2,000 and forced me to find another way to finish the last two semesters. Less travel, less $8 cheese (8 oz), no savings, and a loan from Dad would have me on the road to success. I suffered through a 14-page paper, that was supposed to be a group project, but learned a lot and appreciate the challenge.
Most days I chose to remain face-deep in books ignoring temptations heavy knock to do anything else instead. I learned a lot from my classmates and obviously the professors. I had a night Biology class with Caleb and we learned about the different Australopithecus species. I worked hard and studied and stressed a lot sometimes. Most of the time I was proud of myself and other times I realize I just wasn’t grasping the information to the exact point that the professor was looking for (some are real picky, but so are future employers) and that I could still be proud of my perseverance.
I finished my AA Degree in Business Administration after 20 months. I could have finished sooner and I also could have taken summers off and still be going. I graduated with a 3.73 (honors) GPA; 0.02 points away from graduating with high honors. A minor disappointment but overall a major achievement and hopefully one of many stepping-stones I take to continue enriching my life. The graduating feeling didn’t set in until today when I received my diploma in the mail.
I have the opportunity to walk in cap-n-gown next May; of course I will do it for me, but I will also be able to watch Caleb walk when he graduates next year. All that time and money for a piece of paper, but that paper recognizes my hard-work and dedication and I would gladly do it again for all the extra learning opportunities it gave me; and for all the free books the library was constantly giving away. I have learned more than just about bugs, and Picasso, and grammar, and calculus, and how to please a professor; I have learned how to teach myself, how to navigate new programs, and how to stay interested in a life time of learning.