Change for the better
Damara Hutchins | Highlands TodayTonight, May 3, I did something for the third time in my life: walked across the stage of the South Florida Community College's Theatre for the Performing Arts to accept a degree.
Published: May 5, 2012
Published: May 5, 2012
The first time was way back in 1991 when I graduated Avon Park High School. It was a bittersweet night because I hadn't exactly prepared for a future beyond my diploma. I had no clue what I planned on doing the next day, much less the rest of my life.
Unfortunately, my grades back then reflected the lack of interest I had in my future.
In my senior year, I was dual enrolled in two college classes for reasons I still do not comprehend. Because of my general apathetic attitude towards anything that resembled homework and my inability to foresee consequences for this behavior, my first two college-level grades still mar my overall grade point average.
It was 1995 before I enrolled at Brevard Community College where I was told to pursue my Associate in Arts degree. The advisor directed me to take several classes, which I did, and my grades began improving, mainly because I was paying for the portion of my tuition not covered by financial aid. When your education hits your own pocketbook, homework becomes very important.
Of the 13 classes I completed, I made 3 "B's" and the rest were all "A's." Suddenly, I had a decent GPA and this club called "Phi Theta Kappa," an honor society, wanted me to join. I was pretty sure it would look good on a resume, so I signed up.
My degree was still in-process when I decided to stop everything and move to Washington State. Life took some twists and turns and I found myself in different jobs where I got comfortable with my unfinished education and, besides, I had a family and too much going on to deal with school.
That's why, in 2009, when I signed up at SFCC to complete my AA. degree and see if I might be able to get into the nursing program, I thought I might be crazy.
When I walked that stage in 2010 to accept my Associate in Arts degree that had been 15 years in the making, it felt good.
Tonight felt better.
I am now the recipient of an Associate in Science degree for Nursing; one of the most challenging and coveted programs offered at SFCC.
Not only did I have to pass an exam and meet the academic criteria to be chosen as one of the 25 students privileged enough to be accepted into the program, but I also had to maintain at least a "B" average (I made "A's") in all of my classes. The schedule was grueling and the clinical rotations were excitingly terrifying.
It is hard to believe that I was a slacker student who wouldn't do homework to save her life. Now I'm studying like crazy to learn how to save other people's lives. The irony is almost too much to bear.
So, if you are a concerned parent who has a kid like I was back in 1991, give them a little time to taste the real world. If you're an adult who doesn't think they can go back to school, look at me: I'm a mom, a wife, and quickly closing in on 40 years old and I did it.
Never give up on yourself because the worst thing you can ever do is to not try. Trust me on this.