A Long Road Towards Graduation

Quite a few of these posts come on nights when the brain simply refuses to quiet down. Luckily, I don’t work on Wednesday and my first class is in the mid afternoon. 😉

Speaking of school, Wednesday is the last day for me before Finals. After that, I have one class this summer before I get an Associate’s Degree in Arts! I could tell you that it’s been a long, difficult, exhausting road to this point – and there’s still 2-4 semesters to go before the ultimate goal of a Bachelor’s – but I would be underselling it.

I was fortunate enough to go to Head Start and Kindergarten at Whitney Young Elementary, only about 4 blocks from my old house. Unfortunately, the race-based busing system of the mid 1980s sent me to 3 different schools for 1st-3rd grade. I tested into the Advanced Program for 4th grade, so it was off to school no. 4 (St. Matthews) for the rest of elementary school. The busing system ended so I got to pick my own Middle (Westport) and High Schools (Ballard). I graduated in 1996… then the fun began. 😉

I originally was planning on heading to Florida State University but an old nemesis, money, cancelled those plans; I sat out for the Fall 1996 semester, eventually going to work at both Target (afternoons/nights/weekends) and UPS (late mornings). For the Spring of 1997, I went to my 1B choice, Purdue, for a dual Chemistry-Chemical Engineering program. I loved West Lafayette! The campus was awesome, the hall that I was in was cool, and I liked my classes, even though a Linux class kicked my butt. However, money proved to win out again: I didn’t have enough aid to continue on, so that Spring ended up being my only semester at Purdue.
I stayed home and, for the next 3 years, worked at Target and saved what I could. I didn’t immediately try school again because not only did I not feel comfortable with what I had saved, but my Mom suffered a major, crippling stroke in 1998, while fighting Lupus. In 2000, I enrolled at the University of Louisville but ended up leaving after a few weeks; a promotion at work took priority. I went back in 2001 as a Chemical Engineering major, switching to Computer Engineering and Computer Science a little later. For the next 6 years, I tried to balance full-time work (getting demoted in 2003), full-time and part-time class work, and Marching Band/Pep Band. It worked for most of the first few years. However, the hours at work started getting sporadic, leading me to adjust my availability to pick up more work… which led to my grades dropping… which led to me cutting back my availability. In hindsight, this flip-flopping of work and school, plus losing my Mom in 2005, probably burned me out more than I realized. Grades were low and money was bad, so I took Fall 2007 off. I had no idea at the time that one semester would turn into 7 years before I got back into a classroom.
Those 7 years saw nearly everything along the spectrum happen: a ‘false positive’ with school in 2009; getting promoted to a couple new positions at Target, then tearing the store down and rebuilding in ’09; joining a Drum and Bugle Corps for the first time in 2007, then again in 2013; having heart surgery in 2010; losing my apartment in 2012 due to months of cut hours, then quitting a 16-year run at Target in 2013; and getting hired at Kinetic and Lowe’s (seasonal spring job) in 2013.

I finally got a way back in, with help from a very flexible Kinetic schedule and an old friend who pointed me in the right directions; I reapplied , and was accepted, to UofL plus Jefferson Community and Technical College. I chose JCTC after their financial aid package covered the cost for classes, which UofL didn’t. I chose Computer Information Technology as the major, focusing on Programming, in the Fall of 2014. After taking 14 hours then and 13 hours this semester, I ended up with a 4.00 GPA in the Fall; I currently have a 3.69 for the Spring, because I’m less than a point from an A in a 4-credit computer class, going into Finals. After 19 years between High School graduation and now, I can finally see College Graduation(s) on the horizon!! 😀

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