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Something wonderful has happened and it has only taken 17 years.

It actually happened two weeks ago but I was too embarrassed and a little ashamed to announce it to many people. Mostly because it’s something that should have happened 13 years ago.

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Because of choice that I made right after High School (yeah, that means I got married waaaaaay too young), I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped and stopped, and paused and whined about my higher education. I started at the junior college in 1996, right after graduation but I got sidetracked with dating. Then I got back into the game in 2005 with an AA. Finally, with support of my family, co-workers and most amazing boyfriend, I started on my BS in 2011.

I’m both jumping for joy while being extremely sad. Like a juxtaposition of thoughts laid side by side, opposing but still in harmony with each other.  Or maybe it is just cognitive dissonance that I’m not fully aware of yet.

I do know that I feel as though I should have had this finished 13 years ago. It’s my own personal shame of not facing my fears (cost of college, fear of leaving home, introversion, blah, blah, blah). But then again, dammit, I struggled for this degree. There were days, weeks, when my humble trailer was cluttered and dirty. My kids ate hot pockets and we all did homework together. And I did it for some very important reasons. 

1. I wanted it. For myself and for my kids. I really hope that the example I’ve set of sacrifice and determination will stay with them when it’s time for them to make choices about higher education.

2. I didn’t want to live in poverty forever. The stats were against me: rural working environment, poor economy, single mother, woman, and no degree.

3. The constant barrage of  comments from my Epidemiologist. Melanie has her Master of Public Health (also BA in English from Harvard) and while I didn’t need a degree to keep my current job, she knew I would need it if I ever decided to move. I complained about her constant prodding but I’m so very grateful for her encouragement (especially in those early years).

4. It was a dream that my mother had. She always wanted us to have college educations but didn’t know how to do it. Her genetic DNA provided me with a jumping off point. I’m naturally smart because of her (and naturally nerdy because of the Turnbow side of me but that’s another blog post).

5. I don’t really have a 5th reason but doesn’t 5 sound better than 4.

I’ve learned that there is no “best way” to go about earning a higher education degree. Just like there is no “best way” to run a marathon (all my marathon runner friends would probably disagree). All that matters is that you do it. That you finish your goal. That you may stop and start and stop and pause and whine about the process but in the end, you’ve stuck to it. You’ve finished the race. I also wonder if marathon runners are just as sad when they finish a race. If they too feel disappointed that they didn’t run as fast as they thought they should.  I’m reminded of Philippians 3:12-14 and indeed, many times it felt like I was trying to strain ahead for the goal.

So here I go, starting a new goal, with higher stakes. I’ve enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing. I’ve found a new prize and I am racing ahead at my own pace.

Thank you to my mother for her 35 years of support and to my co-workers who constantly pushed me forward and most of all, to @PIOGreg who gives unending support and encouragement.

Let’s do this!