My college degree is in sight despite all the obstacles

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EL PASO – Ever since high school, I was categorized as one of the students who could never get a college degree, but now I am only months away from earning my diploma at the University of Texas at El Paso, part of the first generation in my family to graduate from college.

In high school they had two kinds of plans, the advanced and the general plan. The advanced plan was for those students identified as college material and the general plan was for those students tagged only as high school graduates.

With my youngest daughter at a field trip. (Photo courtesy of Francis Regalado)

With my middle child at a field trip. (Photo courtesy of Francis Regalado)

My first D in geometry prompted the counselors to switch me to the general plan. Although they said I could still attend college, they pulled me out of geometry and put me in consumer math, which was an interesting class but not a class I feel I really needed. I learned to buy stocks and balance a checkbook.

After graduation, I was planning to go out of town to school but one of my sisters convinced my dad that I was best suited for business school. So I enrolled in business school planning to transfer on to college after graduating. The school said my credits would transfer by the time I graduated. They never did.

But I was convinced that I needed to follow the college path. After receiving an associate degree in microcomputer applications and seeing that the best job that I could find was in computer sales, I realized that I needed to go back to school and obtain a bachelors degree.

After I graduated from the business school I went to El Paso Community College, where I had to begin from zero. I was working full-time and going to school full-time.  At one point I had an additional part time job, but the two jobs and school didn’t last long. I had to quit my part-time job.

I got married and took time off during my pregnancies.  While attending EPCC, I worked a full time job and attended night school until I became pregnant with my third child. My husband and I decided then I should stay home with the kids. I became a part-time student to take care of my kids during the day and went to night school. I took a couple of extra classes to receive my associate and then transferred to the University of Texas at El Paso.

I did have a couple of setbacks. I lost a couple years going to a business school that never got accredited, had to retake a couple of classes that didn’t transfer to UTEP, and I switched my major three times. Until my husband sat down with me and suggested I get the education for the job of my dreams.

After taking classes at UTEP and EPCC I had always wanted to be a writer so I picked the best career that best suited my dreams to major in journalism and minor in creative writing.

I’ve had to miss several things in my kids lives, the school functions, including field trips that my kids and I enjoyed spending with each other.  As a student I had to miss some of the parent/teacher conferences because of class schedules.

That affected me as a stay at home parent because I strived to be there for my kids. What keeps me going is knowing that next May I will receive my Bachelor’s degree diploma in Multimedia Journalism and work on my career to better my family and allow the chance for my husband to return to school and get his master’s degree.

One of the benefits in going to school and raising a family is that my children see how I struggle to balance raising a family and going to school so they can see how difficult it is. Hopefully, they can strive their best to graduate from college before starting a family of their own. A lot of what I am learning here in college is also trickling down so I can be a better teacher to my kids and one day they may realize the sacrifices their parents made for them.

Now that I am in my second to last semester, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I started college 20 years ago, but I can say that I was able to attend college and also be there for my family.

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