College has ever been the one thing that I had trouble giving up. Though I do not condemn myself for those thoughts, because while failure happens, it should not stop someone from moving forward in life. So perhaps I should say that not going to college had held me back in a profound way. And knowing that, troubles me to this day. Not the fact that it did happen, but the fact that I allowed it to be so.
Four and a half years ago, I recovered from a surgery that helped me on the path to weight loss. That recovery allowed me to review my life, and I judged it wanting. At the time I was on disability for many health issues, and with that came a great deal of time. It was then when I made the decision that going back to college had finally become an option within my reach.
As I have said, college has long been far from my thoughts. When I first went to college I choose Engineering to be my major; and I also had given a great deal of thought in changing it to Architecture. It seemed to be the natural path for me, yet now I wonder if I was more pushed into that choice by high school counselors and advisors. I remember telling them that I wanted to do something that involved the environment and of course with my technical drawing classes, and my Math grades they assumed Civil Engineering a fine choice for me. At the time, I did not give much thought to what possible jobs were out there. So I took up their thoughts as they were my own. But with only a year or two removed from my first year of college I began to think of another field of study; leaving engineering behind me.
My next thoughts went towards computer science. I had long had a passion for computers, and a knack with them. It soon became known that knowledge of hardware, software, programming, networking, and all things involving computers could gain a person a good job; even without a degree. While I do not believe that condition lasts as well today as it did then, it was true enough for those years. So I learned as much as I could, strived for ever increasing gains, but progressed little to my misfortune.
There were other options that touched my mind as well. But I am a dreamer and idol thoughts come common to me. I had hopes to study Archeology, and travel the world seeking the mysteries of the past. Learning how to paint, draw, or take the perfect photograph found their ways into my head as well. I even considered business and management skills worthy enough for bring my fortunes high. Though none of these options touched my passions enough to make me deem them worthy to grace the halls of my hopes.
Beyond all others, or maybe entwined between them has always been one other. It came with my dream to be a writer one day and to achieve a degree that would further that cause. Maybe in English Literature major, Creative Writing, or maybe even in Journalism. I believed that those types of study would gain me the confidence I had lost, and would allow me to gain proper habits again. Gaining those things is still something I strive for today.
All of these past ambitions were still with me on the day I decided to start my education again. That day I have written about often over the past four years. I believe it gained me a scholarship, and was offered up to any that pursued it. They need only ask a simple question and it was one that many professors did; why did you choose your major? Such a simple question, but a profound one in many ways. I do not believe that many are able to answer this question so thoroughly at the young age when most college students grace those academic halls. Oh they might believe themselves wise enough to, but one must only look out at the majority of college graduates to see that many of them are not in the same fields as their degrees.
So what happened on that day? Actually I can break my decision down to the time it took to drive fifteen minutes from my home to a local community college. Before that drive I was completely confident on my choice to study creative writing; and finally work towards my dream. But foreign thoughts entered my mind during that trip. What would I become after gaining a degree in creative writing? With an English degree? An easy answer, I would become a writer… would it not be so? Actually, it would not be so. To become a writer, or perhaps to become a published writer would take time, effort, and dedication to the craft. One does not just get a degree and find themselves welcome to the club.
But if I could not become a writer right away, what possible paths would I find with that degree? I believe the few choices that came to me were a teacher, a journalist, an editor, and maybe a few more. But none of those options appealed to me. None were my dream! But without that what would I do? I considered a few things then. First that many authors do not have degrees in writing, for that matter some do not have degrees at all. Next was that while in college I would be writing a great deal; in papers, reports, essays, homework, and more. So would I need a degree in a writing field? I believed not.
So with all of this considered, what course of action did I have? I began to think about what I wanted out of a degree. What I would want is a career that I could thrive in. No, more then that I wanted a job that could bring me happiness, day in and day out. Over the years I had worked with many people that hated their jobs. When you consider that your working life takes up a great majority of your time over the years, would it not be important to find your way into a career that you have passion for? I believed so, and I set myself to the task of considering what could love. What type of employment would bring my passions to bare?
What passions did I still possess? Could I get a degree in role playing; would that be an acting degree? Maybe I could get a degree in computers; did I still care that much for them? Or maybe other past thoughts could again be considered? All of these did come to mind when I thought about them, but sometime tickled in the back of my head. I remembered with longing, all of my childhood activities in scouting or with family; camping, hiking, canoeing, the ocean, and my love of the outdoors. But being obese had kept me from those things, so I had grown past them.
Those activities were almost forgotten to me. Like dreams from the past, almost fairytales. But could I recapture some of what was lost to me? Surely by just losing more weight I would be given the opportunity to do those activities again. Though it seemed to me that I could have more if I desired. If I were to find a life, a career that allowed me access to work with the environment; then perhaps I could find happiness.
I found resolution in that comforting thought. Upon arriving at the community college, I found a rack that held pamphlets of all of the majors that were offered. Two of those peaked my interest and filled the requirements that I had sought. The first was a degree in Environmental Science. Though that degree had a few problems for me. Largest of those was the fact that it required a great deal of chemistry; a field of study that has ever been my enemy in schooling. The second degree that I found favorable was in Natural Resource Studies. In that major I found much less chemistry and a more hands on approach; much better for me then just laboratory work.
From that moment on I devoted my time and energy to my studies. I started that summer and began by taking two classes to ready myself for a full semester in the fall. A starting English Comprehension class, and a class in Computer Applications. The first was a great help to gauge how I had grown in my writing ability. And the next was little to no help at all; but later when I transferred to a four year school it took the place of an advanced math requirement… somehow. The end of the semester gave me my first A’s and helped to drive my confidence for the next few years.
The semesters flew past and I continued to keep a perfect grade point average. I quickly found that I could soak up the knowledge that was given to me fast. Soon enough I had spent a year and a half there, and had completed all my credit requirements. Greed for more learning overcame me and I looked toward a four year college. But the option now was before me, what path should I walk into a university following?
There were two things that appealed to me most, a major in wildlife conservation and one in forestry. Above all I had found a true passion in my classes in Zoology and Botany, though neither had been prominent in my mind. It was not an easy decision to make and it took me some time to choose. But in the end I believed that forestry was the right one for me and over in time at the university I found that it had been true.
At the university I found much of the same passions. I soaked in knowledge, studied like crazy, and bore good grades. Though I had relaxed some from my time at the community college and perfection was not now my goal. I gave way to interest and whim, and still ended up with a grade point average of 3.6. I was delighted at how many of the professors treated me more as an equal then as a student. Perhaps it was my age (32 then) compared to normal students, but I gained their respect none the less.
Again my time there went fast, and I completed a bachelor’s degree in just two more years. I grew to know my field as a student and a professional. But again greed overtook me, and I wanted more still. Over the years as a forestry student I found one other passion that allied closely to that field of study; and that was water resources.
It is now that I must admit that, while I have been so driven to accomplish my degrees. I have forced myself at a pace faster then I should had. I gained an associate’s degree in a year and a half; when it should had taken me two and a half years by the curriculum. Then I finished my bachelor’s degree in two years, when it should had taken me at least two and a half years. I was driven by my age and my desire to finish my degree quick enough to begin work again.
So when it came to my choice to continue on with my studies towards a master’s degree, I had mixed feelings. My drive and passion demanded more! But my practical side, knew I might not be able to afford more. Bills and credit have mounted during that time, and I needed to begin to work again. I worried that my age and weight might complicate entry into the work force. With those worries I have finally made my decision, I will continue on to gain my masters; and hopefully obtain position soon after.
I chose a compromise for these desires. The university I attended had newly offered a master’s program in Water Sustainability and Climate Change, and that degree was offered in an accelerated time frame. That type of program would only take one year to complete. I believe it would be no burden to one such as me, whom has only taken an extreme course load in the past. After a great deal of contemplation, I had decided that it was an opportunity that I could not deny myself. So I set my sights on this achievement, and hope that it will find me not wanting.
In a months’ time, I will begin…