Thursday, April 22, 2010

And in the end…

So here we are, another semester ending. Many of my friends and classmates are graduating and heading off to the great unknown. I should be one of them, alas I am not.

I have been pursuing this dangling carrot called a degree since fall 2002. I had finished my Associate of Science, Medical Assisting with high honors that June. I expected that I’d be working in that field for a while then work my way up into administration through time and taking classes here and there. I enrolled in an online program that took all my credits and guaranteed me a bachelors degree in 18 months.

I started off strong with decent grades then I had to take math, which I suck at, online. It was the first F I had ever gotten. I felt like the Titanic after hitting the iceberg--I was sinking.

I took a few more classes but felt lost and confused as to what I really wanted. Then life happened. I had to work while my husband was in the Marines so I took what ever employment I could to help make ends meet. I did work at the first duty station in the ER as a tech, but learned really quickly that I was not cut out for the face paced environment at 30 something despite being able to do so at 20 when I was in the Navy.

I also got hurt. It would forever change my ability to be a medical assistant. I injured my neck, upper and lower back and knee while helping to restrain a patient that the police brought in on drugs. I imagine he was strong sober, on drugs he was superman. I was tossed around like a rag doll. It ended my brief clinical career as a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant)

For the remainder of the tour of duty in NOLA I was assigned to an administrative position on a long term care floor. I was content there. I liked the work, I liked the hours, so I decided to pursue my bachelors in Hospital Administration and transferred to another online program that accepted all the credits and was very military friendly. In other words, if I was changing duty stations I could take leave without penalties, something the previous online college had a problem with.

Meanwhile, we transferred to North Carolina and I was forced yet again to take a job to support the family. Only this time I was a legal secretary. I figured a secretary is a secretary so I could make this work. I kinda liked the job despite clashing with the owner. I changed my major to a business administrative track.

Then life happened again. Husband was sent away on training, my son was sick a lot due to being in daycare and Katrina happened. All were steeping stones on the way to me being let go.

Despite the wrong doing in the termination it was a blessing in disguise because I found my voice in my writing and was able to find paying work in it. I was working steady with feature stories in various places and figured that I could keep that up when we returned to Ohio after the end of my husbands enlistment.

It wasn’t the case. I found it was more “good ol’ boys” club then anything I experienced in the South. I needed a degree to even get grunt work jobs. I was forced back to work to support the family by returning to my CMA roots.

I liked the job and it was a nice balance of clinical and administrative. I kept taking the classes and figured one day I’d move up the hospital food chain. I change my major back to Hospital Administration. However, as life always seems too, it happened again. I didn’t make it through my orientation or trial period due to illness.

I went job hunting for something around less sick people in hopes that I wouldn’t catch every cold or flu in the county. I ended up temping at a wonderful place as a administrative assistant. It suited me well.

I learned about the non-profit sector, something I had never had on my radar until then. I worked with great teachers and people who believed in me. Sadly, it was only a temp job. I was quickly hired into another non-profit though as I changed my major yet again to business administration.

I had a knack for innovation and office efficiency. I could see the big picture and all the little pictures in between. Unfortunately my life force was sucked out of me over a year and a half by a boss that thanks to karma got her just rewards in the end.

So, I decided to move to a traditional university. I changed majors to Communications because I knew I wanted to work in a creative or writing field. I had a natural talent for it but I needed the tools to get anywhere with it.

When I came to UA, I brought in over 145 credits, not including military and the fact that my AS was not excepted for any of my transfer credits. I had to retake my sciences, maths, humanities & speech, for what is now the 3rd time. I sucked it up and thought I’ll get there, I’ll cross that stage before I know it.

I’ve managed to maintain dean’s list for every semester I’ve been enrolled. But life happened…

Loans ran out, husband laid off, they changed my major around before I could sign my contract for graduation.

I fell in love with Chinese culture and decided that if I had to take a language now I might as well take one I can use and love. Which lead me to taking on the Asian Studies Certificate and adding extra courses.

Now I am here, the last weeks before finals. Wondering what to do next. I did decide that I am taking the summer off for a mental and financial break. I have my trip to China in 2 weeks and I can’t wait.

What I will do next August is still up in the air. I am scheduled for classes, but who knows what life may bring this summer. I am still at least 1 year away from any degree if I can go full time. I have 2 children that are fast approaching college themselves.

I hope that in my time off, I’ll get the fire to learn going again and maybe win the lottery to pay for it. I also need the time to take care of my family which I have sadly neglected during my full time schooling. And don’t get me started on the state of our house and the basement in grave need of organizing.

Plus, I want to read for fun again and write because I have an idea not a paper due.

I guess we all can dream, right…

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