Student Spotlight

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By Tiffany Black, Mountwest Graduate

Going back to school after fifteen years was not going to be easy. I knew that this was one of the hardest and most important decisions that I was going to make. This decision not only affected me, but affected my family too. It meant that I would be spending more time focusing on my education and doing homework, and it may cut into my quality time with my children.

Am I willing to make this sacrifice? Are they willing to accept this change? As I filled out my schedule for the first time since high school, fifteen years ago, I became overwhelmed with so many different emotions. I was excited to start my new journey in life, but was also scared of how hard it may be for me, and worried about the affect it would have on my family.

“I am very proud of myself for making the decision to go to college. Not only has it improved my self-esteem but it has also encouraged and motivated me to go beyond an associate degree.”

Raising three children pretty much on my own was hard enough without throwing school into the picture. Was it stupid to try and go to college at 33 years old? I don’t know. All I know is that my son is in high school, and I expect him to go to college. How can I set a good example for my children when I did nothing with my life? This was the moment when I knew I had made the right decision for me and my family. I want my children to be proud of me, and I want them to know they can do anything they put their minds and hearts into.

The first day of school I wanted to vomit as soon as I woke up. I was so nervous to walk into a classroom after being out of school for so long. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to have the confidence or capability of actually going through my plan for college. Maybe this would be one of those things I start but never finish. I got as far as scheduling but it was questionable if I would make it through the first day. I hate being in crowds and being around people that I don’t know.

I was afraid that I was going to be the only “old” person there and that the younger kids would laugh at me for not knowing anything. I dreaded this day for weeks, and it was finally here. How was I going to get the nerve to go into that school, where I knew no one? As I drove myself to school, I just kept saying, “You’re doing this for your children; you can do this.” Somehow I managed to get myself to my classes without making myself sick. It was not what I had expected at all. Nobody cared how old I was, and there were people even older than me. As I drove home that day, I felt so good about myself, something that I had not felt for a very, very long time. I knew that it was going to be a lot of hard work, but I knew that I could do this.

Walking into school the second day was just as bad as the first because it was the first day all over again but with different classes. I got myself through it again, and it began to get easier. The staff and students were so incredibly nice that it made it so much easier to fit in. After a few days, I met some of the peer coaches who they have on campus. These students gave me the motivation and determination to not give up. I don’t know what it was, but something about how much they seemed to want to help others succeed made all the difference in the world to me.

I did not feel alone on this journey anymore; there were so many people on campus who wanted to support me and help me in many ways. It helped that two of my teachers were the best teachers I had had anytime throughout my years in school. After a couple weeks of classes, these teachers had already greatly impacted my life in a positive way. If it wasn’t for them and the peer coaches, I don’t know if I would have continued my plans for college.

I am very proud of myself for making the decision to go to college. Not only has it improved my self-esteem but it has also encouraged and motivated me to go beyond an associate degree. I feel that my children can now look at their mother and know that she is doing everything she can to make a better life for them. My children are my world! They are a great motivation tool when it comes to school, because I would do anything I could to give them a brighter future. It took me being diagnosed with medical issues, losing my job, and going through some very rough times for me to decide to go to college. All of these horrible things lead me to the best decision that I have made in a long time. I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason, even if you do not know what that reason is.

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