It’s Never Too Late to Accomplish Your Dreams
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from St Mary’s College of California at the age of 43. I wanted to go to college after high school, but a few things got in my way. One thing that stopped me, in my opinion, was my high school guidance counselor. I was a pretty popular girl. I was a cheerleader and a track star. I was a pretty good student with at 3.1 grade point average, but was never guided towards college or even to take the SAT’s. I also worked in the high school attendance office. Everyday there were students in my counselor’s office. It didn’t look as though they were working on particular things to me, often they were just visiting. Laughing and talking, etc.
It didn’t dawn on me until much later that none of those students was Black. Imagine my surprise when the SAT testing dates were announced and I had no idea what they were, or when they were. I tried to get in to see my counselor that day, and of course, the line was out the door, with other Black students wanting to know the same thing.
I made an appointment with my counselor but it was for the following week. During that week, several alternative education recruiters came to the school, and after speaking to the representative from Heald College, and being told that I didn’t need to take the SAT to enroll, that is what I did. My counselor never even responded to my request to see him.
My plan was to attend Heald and get a legal secretarial degree, and then go to a 4-year university to study law. I always wanted to be a trial lawyer. I was able to get financial aid, but that did not help with my living expenses. After 3 months of struggling financially I got a good paying job. In 1981, I was a 17 year old being paid $11/hour. That was good money at the time. School became less and less of a priority. I fell behind, and decided that instead of getting the legal secretarial degree, I would just get the basic secretarial certification. I left school early, with the basic certificate, and continued working for the next 20 years.
I found myself working for people without degrees at all or if they had degrees the degree was definitely not in the field they worked in. Many of my supervisors were promoted because they had been with the company for a certain amount of time, not because they were qualified to supervise people. They were subject matter experts. It is necessary to have subject matter experts on staff, but they are not always the best people to be in charge, especially without extensive education and/or training in supervisory skills.
Over time I was married and divorced and became the single mother of three children. With a deadbeat dad for a father, my children needed more from me than I had. As the children grew, and I got older, the desire for a college degree became stronger and stronger. I wanted my children to go to college, and felt that I could set a better example if I had a college degree.
Time moved on and I re-married. Due to numerous behavioral problems with my eldest daughter, my husband suggested I take a break from working and stay home to get my house in order. When I eventually got her back on track, and my living situation was running smoothly, I became bored. I decided to take a couple of classes at the local community college; which eventually led to a certificated course. Being in a learning environment as an adult was an awesome experience. No longer did I have the need to be the popular kid. No longer was I worried about a boy either liking me or disliking me. I had the time, inclination and skills to do well in school. I loved it.
After I received the certificate from the community college, I had the education bug. I heard about an accelerated learning degree program for adults, and applied. I was accepted and 3 long years later, I was walking the commencement line at St Mary’s College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management.
During college, I needed some income, so I took a job as a hostess at a restaurant in my hometown. It was rather embarrassing. I was a 40 year old mother of three and was hosting at a restaurant, which is a job that is usually filled by much younger people. Occasionally I’d run into people I went to high school with and I could just hear the thoughts running through their heads, “She must have no skills at all”, “Poor thing!” My eldest daughter, even though she never said so, was also a little embarrassed. I worked alongside some of her classmates. But my eyes were on the prize.
A year or so into my accelerated classes, I was told by my counselor that I need a job closer to the field that I was studying. After some time, I got an entry level clerical job at a very prestigious company. It didn’t pay much, but it was better than restaurant work.
After I graduated from college, I was promoted to supervisor.
I have now been in the supervisor position for over a year. I feel I am a great supervisor. My life experiences of multiple jobs with multiple supervisors gave me the background that I needed to be the best supervisor I could be. I had to learn what to do, but my past experiences showed me what not to do. I am making more money than I’ve ever made. I feel valued and appreciated. I am also humble enough not to take anything for granted. I have been on both sides of the fence and that empathy is what makes me a successful supervisor and a successful person.
Its never too late to accomplish your dreams!