It would be a beautiful thing if life goes great during your college years with no major issues arising. However, for many of us that is simply not reality. When you decide to attend college you are often making a commitment that will take multiple years to complete. For those of us coming out of prison, it is very hard to see that far into the future and we never know what type of adversity we might have to deal with.
For me personally, the biggest form of adversity I had to deal with was to keep pushing after losing several of the people closest to me. In my household growing up it was at first me, my mom, my dad, my two older sisters and my younger sister. Once my mom and dad got divorced eventually it became me, my mom, my step-dad, my two older sisters and my younger sister. The members of my household were all very close and we spent a lot of time together and relied on each other heavily in various ways.
My first loss was my step-dad. He passed away in May 2011 after spending a couple months in hospice care. This was the first person close to me who had ever died after age 5 and whose funeral I played a role in funding and planning. My mom and step-dad lived between my house and Pierce College so I stopped there on my way to class and my step-dad was still living and breathing laying there in his bed. I stopped by again on my way home, my mom was crying and my step-dad was laying in his bed lifeless. I still managed to keep pushing and graduate with my Associate’s the very next month.
In March 2012 I had a major scare when a lump was discovered on my throat. I had to have surgery for the first time in my life. My mom had moved to California but she was supposed to come back for my surgery and never made it. She called me on March 23rd, 2012 to wish me a happy 27th birthday and we talked for a little bit. By 4 a.m. the next morning my phone was blowing up with people attempting to inform me that my mother had passed away. This was so tough. Spring quarter of my first year at UW started two days later. I managed to keep pushing and earned a 3.5 GPA that quarter.
By June of 2014 I had earned my Bachelor’s degree. By September I was starting grad school. Only a couple weeks into my very first quarter of grad school, my dad passed away. On the day he died I had a job interview in the financial aid office, a meeting with my professor and I had class. Despite the circumstances I kept pushing and I made it to that job interview and got the job, I made it to my meeting with my professor and she told me she better not see me in class. I went on to have a very successful first quarter of grad school and earned a 3.7 GPA despite the adversity.
Most recently, as I was completing this project, I suffered the toughest lost of all. On the very first day of what should have been my final quarter of grad school, my oldest sister died. Before she passed she had been hospitalized and went through multiple high risk procedures during her four month stay in the hospital. This is the only loss that I had to step back from my school work for. I had to not only plan my sister’s funeral but also take in her young son. I knew that I needed some time. I gave myself until after the funeral and after we were settled and then I was right back to work.
Here I am now, at the finish line. I did not let adversity stop me from succeeding. It is up to us to look at the best in every situation and stay positive. We all deal with different forms of adversity but we can and will succeed as long as we keep pushing. Refuse to self-destruct. Refuse to take steps backwards.