Monday, March 3, 2014

Change Your Stars ... Believe It

"I believe in the impossible; If I reach deep within my heart; Overcome any obstacle; Won't let this dream fall apart; See, I strive to be the very best; Shine my light for all to see; Cause anything is possible; When you believe." I Believe by Fantasia Barrino

Life is a series of journeys. My educational journey has taken quite a few twists and turns before I arrived as the finish line.

I went to a Marine Science Magnet for high school because as a child I wanted to be the next Jacques Cousteau and discover why whales beached themselves. After three years of seeing teachers who were burned out by marine sciences (and the realization that most marine biologists only made about $35,000 a year), I decided to take a different path. I was off to a good start when I was accepted to Princeton, USC, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.

Instead of picking a college, I instead went to junior college, where I found a love for journalism. I spent too many years in junior college, after getting sidetracked in a pursuit of becoming a full-time minister. I finally got my foot in the door at a local newspaper and began working my way up the ranks. About the same time, I put my educational pursuit on hold when I had my oldest daughter and worked full-time to support a burgeoning family.

After several years of working as a sports reporter (with one editor telling me that I didn't need a degree because I had contacts and experience - with another telling me my failure to finish my degree was a sign that I could not finish what I started), I found myself back at the bottom of the rung when I switched to news reporting in 2007.

A few months later, my editor called me over and suggested that I got back to college because I had issues with writing basic English.  I found a commercial for the University of Phoenix and started taking classes in 2008. Two classes every nine weeks. 50 weeks a year. My then-wife told me that she didn't think I'd finish because I was a quitter who couldn't finish what I'd started. And soon thereafter, she divorced me. In 2010, I earned my associates degree.

But I wasn't done. I started work to earn my bachelor's degree. One class every five week. 50 weeks a year. I did homework in the middle of a softball tournament in Las Vegas. I worked two jobs. My grandfather died.

There were times when I wondered what I was doing, if it was worth it and would there be a payoff at the end of the road. And then I saw that video link of Fantasia - a woman who had a dream of being a star, took a chance, worked hard and became an American Idol. The tears of joy she had while she sang the song became MY tears of joy when I realized that I was becoming someone different. I was becoming the person I was supposed to be after all this time. And in 2012, I earned my Bachelor of Arts.

My life changed again after walking off that stage. I was filled with the desire that I'd had in my youth, but had given up on as I got older.

That desire was to have a positive impact on the world around me. To change the world - one person at a time. So I went back to get my master's degree. Instead of majoring in Marriage and Family Therapy to become a Sports Psychologist, I decided to major in Public Administration to understand how governments worked for the inside. My goal was/is to run for public office to fight people like myself who needed a helping hand in order to pursue a degree later in life. I was fortunate enough to work for an elected official.
The experience only lasted a couple of months, but I gained months worth of material for my coursework. I didn't have to work two jobs anymore, but I still had to do homework. I took a final in a hotel room while watching the Presidential debates. I wrote a paper and took a final in an apartment standing up because I didn't have a desk.

To be honest, I never pictured this day - the day when I would finally be finished with school. It's a been a long and hard 22 years to get to where I am today. But I wouldn't trade the journey for anything.

So what's next? Another journey. But for now, I'm going to savor THIS moment. You see, I've waited all my life for this moment to arrive. And FINALLY .... I Believe.

Until next time ...

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