My Nontraditional Student Success Story
Let me begin by saying that I am very grateful to have such a diverse background. My experiences throughout my 28 years, have awarded me the opportunity to connect with all walks of life. Each one of us has a unique set of circumstances that led us to become non-traditional and each story counts as a testimony of strength and endurance. For me to be where we I am today means that I overcame the obstacles that were preventing me from successfully completing my education.
My story begins during my early teenage years and the loss of my parents. I came from a very abusive home and became homeless at the age of fifteen. Despite the circumstances at home, I was an intelligent child academically. Some of the most critical years of my life were spent moving from place to place almost daily, striving to survive in an adult world that was unkind to a youth, and trying to understand how to grow up without any stability or direction. I have always referred to growing up as being raised by 1000 faces. Each person that came into my life, left me with a little portion of wisdom. I have learned how to become less judgmental, a lesson that some people never learn. Sometimes the worst stereotyped individuals are the only ones that will help you survive. I found myself pregnant at the age of 16, homeless, a high school dropout, and absolutely no support system. The child’s father was a drug addict and after careful consideration I decided to go back to my hometown and begin the rest of my life. His addiction led him to his death.
By the age of 20, I had finally become self-sufficient with my own home and two children by this time. I attempted college while working full time and failed miserably. Relationships in my life were still non-existent beyond my only marriage. It was not until the age of 27, a failed marriage, and a third child being born that I decided to finish my education. I had worked all those years to merely survive and never live. It took me getting broken down to nothing and starting over to give me the courage to try something so extreme. I still have not gone back to work and I am currently a full-time student. Graduating college seemed like a far fetched dream and now I am living the dream.
The next few steps I took have been the most important steps to secure my home as well as my future. My theory was that I have lost everything emotionally as well as physically more than once and rebuilt from the ground up. Therefore, the worst possible situation would be that I lose everything and rebuild once more. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." I began seeking scholarship and grant opportunities locally and nationally. It started with one scholarship and turned into many. It didn't take long for me to formulate a system that would keep me consistently in the judging process for awards. The most substantial barrier that prevented me from continuing my education, was the matter of trying to provide a home for my children and afford to pay for college at the same time. Truthfully, for me to say that I did not know this system would yield great rewards, would be false. However, I did begin this journey based on curiosity and courage alone. It was not until the end of my second semester that I finally became confident in my efforts. I was awarded several scholarships and with careful money management, I have been able to keep a roof over our heads as well as maintain a high G.P.A. Sometimes you must take a great risk in order to completely shatter the sense of complacency.
I am very thankful for the continuing support of organizations such as: Women’s Independence Scholarship Fund, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Miller and Bowie County, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Soroptimist, and the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana. I am able to successfully complete my education through your guidance, support, encouragement, resources, and financial awards. I believe in giving back to my community and have begun presenting workshops to teach others how to utilize resources so they too can fulfill their dreams. It is my objective to teach others how to overcome the same challenges. Inspiration is a powerful force that can overtake someone in such a way that they fully transform their life in pursuit of their dreams. Fear was the only thing holding me back from becoming who I was meant to be. Now, I can become a shining example of how to conquer your fears and successfully complete college as a non-traditional student. Thank you for reading my story.