I was reflecting upon how different her life experiences have been compared with mine at the same age and how proud I am of her and all of her accomplishments.On the ride home she told me that the admissions counselor asked her about her support system and she told him that it was me that influenced her and inspired her. Can I just say, what an incredible honor?!?!?
Then it reminded me of an essay I had to write last year when I was applying for a scholarship. It was a scholarship offered through the IHSA (Illinois Head Start Association) and the requirements were that you had to be a Head Start employee, parent, or former student and a current full time student. Judges would select a winner, one winner in the state of Illinois, from the essays received from qualified recipients. Another one of those 'what have I got to lose' moments in my life. Here is the essay I submitted and that was chosen making me the winner of the Mary Alice Buchanan Scholarship Award.
As I sit down to write this essay, I am struck by how difficult it is to write about myself. I should be telling everyone my story, sharing with the world, not just my failures, but my successes. It has been a long road from there to here and I have accomplished much.
Growing up in Michigan, I was the oldest child of an alcoholic father and co-dependent mother. I went to Head Start as a child. We lived in public housing, received food stamps, benefitted from a medical card and to this day I can’t stand to see a block of cheese, dried milk, or tuna casserole. I was the peacemaker among my siblings, the responsible one in my family, the good student in school; your typical oldest child. But certain things were just a given. I would hopefully graduate from high school, get a job, and move out when I was 18. So I did.
I have lived on my own since I was 18 years old and worked since I was 16. When I was 22 I started working at a sales company and worked for that company for 10 years. This was my first long term job, the beginning of my understanding of what a career could be. The company closed after 10 years and I was unemployed for the first time ever. As I stood in the unemployment office, I saw a sign that would, again, change my world. It was a program for dislocated workers and I qualified. Essentially, they told me I could go to school for two years and they would pay for it. I chose to get my Associates in Child Development and returned to school full-time. At this time I was married with 3 children. Soon after starting school I began working full time in a day care. At the age of 36, I graduated with my AAS in Child Development, a 3.8 GPA, and High Honors. I am the first child in my family to graduate from college.
I knew, from doing my observations for school, that I wanted to come and teach at Head Start and ‘pay it forward’ as they say. I had been blessed by this program that had given me the means to return to school and I wanted to pass that on to others.
Soon after starting at Head Start as an Assistant Teacher I decided to return to school and complete my Bachelor’s Degree. I have been attending Kendall College full time for two years now. I am completing my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and already thinking about what I might pursue my Masters in.
It has been demanding of my time and my energy but every time I look into the eyes of my 3 daughters I know I am doing the right thing for all of us. And even if I am not comfortable talking about my accomplishments with others, I am proud of myself and where I have been and what I have become.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Own it in style!!