Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Story - Why I Went to College

As always My Story is from my point of view. You can read my disclaimer here.


My mom always dreamed of graduating from college. But she married my dad right after graduating a year early from high school and they headed east right away. College became a series of starts and stops for her. When I was four, she was enrolled in a community college nearby. While she was in class, I went to the preschool on campus.

I think my mom was studying to be a nurse. I am not really sure. She was often studying or working on an assignment. One of her classes involved bringing home a cat cadaver as homework. I would have thought it would be traumatizing seeing a dead cat in the house, but it wasn't. The smell though was overwhelming, not of death but of something that reminded me of disinfectant. 

I knew even then that her work, her going to school was important. I was taught from a very young age that college was important. Neither of my parents went to school right after high school. They are both incredibly bright people. My dad worked with computers back before it was popular, back when computers took up a whole room. He did not need college to do his job. But he loved to learn. I remember the day my dad hung up the huge mural picturing earth from space on the wall in our living room. It covered the entire wall with the darkness of space broken up by the bright blue, white and green of the earth. They loved that mural. They were nerdy like that. They are both inquisitive and always learning but a traditional college experience was not available to them at the time. But for their kids, college was a given. 

It was really, really, important to them that we go straight off to university. We were also told from a young age that we would have to pay for it ourselves. There was no college savings plan at our house. Foster parents do not have any extra money at the end of the day. It was sort of a confusing message to give to a kid I realize now. "Go to college which is really, really expensive, but we cannot help you with money." But it made sense to me then and it makes sense to me now. My mom gave up college, the dream she had for herself, to marry my father. Marriage at 16 and kids just a short time later was not her original plan. She wanted more for us but knew she could not help us get there beyond giving us the vision. But the vision was enough for me. 

I learned watching my parents struggle to get through school over years and decades. I watched them and knew I did not want to be managing life, kids, and cutting up a cat cadaver all at the same time. I knew I wanted to go to college and be free to have a full college experience. 

I am so glad I stay focused on that goal because college was life changing and life saving. And it did not involve a single cat cadaver being brought home. I was able to visit my dead science projects at the lab. 

But again, I am getting ahead of myself. 

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