I’d like to believe that raising my children as a single mom merits an honor badge of some type. Not because I have done a flawless job but for every fall I have taken, it has resulted in a pretty amazing comeback. I recently experienced a tough semester in school and even considered taking time off, then I was reminded of the effort I had put in and why I was pursuing my education.
Last year in the spring, as my daughter contemplated college decisions, I wanted to encourage her to apply for scholarships, so I also submitted a couple of scholarship applications myself. I believe in leading by example, this is the main reason I returned to college. I’m enrolled in my local community college, which is where most Chicanos and Latinos begin their higher education journey.
Now, earning my degree has become somewhat of an obsession, focusing all my time and energy on family, spiritual growth/faith, studies and growing a business leaves limited play and social time. Because of this, from time to time supportive friends and family share adult education opportunities with me. I check the criteria and pursue the ones that I feel good about. I do the required work, submit applications, thank my loved ones for thinking of me, and then pretty much forget about applications submitted.
In the fall, I had a tough semester. I can sit here and list out several life changing events that made it difficult for me to focus on school work, but the main thing that affected me, was my daughter’s absence. In August, Mariah left home for her first semester in college. It was the most bizarre emotional roller coaster. I was super proud of her, yet I was super sad that she was gone. Many nights I cried myself to sleep instead of reading and studying. I cried so much I even got an eye infection and couldn’t wear my contacts, which in result gave me horrible headaches. It was a tough time, but thankfully I got through the semester. My grades did suffer, and at the end I was feeling a bit defeated.
When winter came around, Mariah was home, and I felt complete. We talked about spring semester plans and goals. She indicated that she was not completely happy at her school and that she was homesick. She actually wanted to return home, and inside I was dying to say, “YES come back!” But I held my emotions in and we discussed all of the pros and cons of leaving her current college, and we came to a reasonable agreement that she should return for the next semester.
I, on the other hand, was considering taking a break from school in the spring. I never said it out-loud but the idea seemed logical, I thought I could focus on work and growing our businesses. That one crummy grade really shook me, and I felt a bit confused about the road ahead.
Right around the time I was preparing to talk to my family about my spring plans, I received an email from the Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation informing me I had been chosen as a scholarship recipient. I had applied for this scholarship early in the spring when I was trying to get my daughter to apply for scholarships. I am grateful for the scholarship, not only for the monetary assistance but it came right in the knick of time that I was having self-doubt. It has served as reminder to never steer away from something we are passionately pursuing due to setbacks. Believing in ourselves is key. We can then, let the comeback define us.
All our students need emotional support, even the ones that THINK they are grown up and those that actually ARE grown up. If you have a student going to college or in college, that scholar needs to be reminded his/her efforts matter. If you have free time to search scholarship submissions that might fit your beloved student’s criteria, do it and pass the information on. Remind these students that you believe in them frequently. I tell you this not only from a student perspective but as a mommy and tía.
I shared the scholarship award news with my family. I enrolled into a winter class and moved forward with my educational plan for 2017 regardless of what hoops and hurdles I might encounter, it’s called life!
Hearing my kids say how proud they are of me will continue to give me that extra strength I need when things get tough. When my children face challenges, I remind them to never throw in the towel and to give it their very best until the end. I also assure them that their honest efforts have and will always make me proud. We are in this educational journey together, and we are determined to reach our goals.
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