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Sunday, September 2

A.D.'s story

The following story was sent by an HCC student.

As far back as I could remember, I was that little girl that tried to bring home stray animals because even at a young age, I couldn't fathom the thought that they didn't have food or a warm bed to sleep in at night. I knew when I grew up, I just had to work with animals on some level. I also knew that growing up in New York, and with my straight A grades, I wanted to go to a university in Florida. We had vacationed there a few times, and I wanted to get away from the big city and move to paradise.

Throughout High School I had maintained a full time job and went from an honor society student to barely making it out of High School. I was a very angry teenager - My parents had divorced, my mom was disabled, money was tight, and I had also experienced a traumatic event that would forever change my life. Of course, being a teenager, I couldn't understand all of my anger and emotions, and started to rebel. I found unhealthy outlets to release everything I had inside of me and I had single handedly given up all of my dreams. I decided it didn’t matter right now, and I had plenty of time ahead of me. So, my hopes to work with animals were put behind me. Who has the time, money, or energy, and what college would accept me with my grades? I settled on just getting a second cat.

Although divorced, my parents did agree on one thing: the importance of education and the vital role and impact it will or will not have on your life. My mother was not able to finish school because she had fell victim to cancer at a young age, and never returned. She had always felt that her dreams were crushed and just ripped out from under her. My father had tried to live vicariously through me because he too never finished school, and was working for the same company for almost 30 years with no significant change in salary, and without a degree, he felt he couldn’t go anywhere. One thing they didn’t agree on was their school of thought. My father believed that we all do things we do not want to do and who cares if you don’t like your job, as long as your making money - It doesn’t matter if your happy, just as long as your bank account is flourishing. My mom believed that it was more important to be happy than to be able to buy 3 cars at a time. I was in the middle. I wanted to do something I enjoyed and get compensated for it.

Although money was tight, my father had always made sure to set aside a budget to
send me to school. I realized that I was moving into my adult years and I needed to get my act together. I reluctantly agreed to enroll in some college courses, but I never had a clear plan in mind. This would last for years to come. I had also accepted a position for an insurance company as a receptionist. My mind shifted from what will the future hold for me, to how much money can I make now.

My receptionist position had turned into promotion after promotion, and I job hopped a few times every time I gained more experience, because of course, with more experience, comes more money. By the time I was in my mid twenties, I was offered a position with a very reputable company that would literally double my salary within two years. I was in a management position and making more money than most of my friend's parents, and my own. This was my break, and I was convinced that I did not need a college degree. College is for suckers. So, I quit school. Besides, I had lost track of the classes I had withdrew from.

Within the next few years, I was stressed beyond belief, and began to loathe my job. I was in and out of doctor's because the stress started to affect my health. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my job, it the fact that I hated what I did, and I had to do it for 50-60 hours a week. This isn’t what I WANTED to do with my life, this is what I SETTLED to do with my life because I became prisoner to my paycheck. I was spending most of my waking hours doing something I despised.

While vacationing in Florida with my fiancé, I realized how much I loved the sunshine state, and on our way back home, I just cried because I didn't want to go back to work - I hated my job - I hated the cold - the snow - the commute - my responsibility - I was at my breaking point. I had had enough. I am not only quitting my job - I am leaving New York and moving to Florida, and never working in the insurance industry again. The job has taken such a toll on me - it has pushed me out of the state!

When I arrived in Florida, an insurance position was all I could accept to make a decent salary, because I had no degree and no experience in any other field. After two years, I had what felt like a combination of a nervous breakdown and a mid life crisis, and again, here I am, in the same old job that is robbing my every fiber of my being. By now, only a bottle of wine can de-stress me. Did I mention the commute? It was one to two hours each way for a job that was making me miserable, even affecting my marriage at times, plus I was in and out of the doctors, even a therapist by this time. They all gave me the same prescription: "QUIT YOUR JOB".

But where could I go without a degree and no other experience? All I could do is think that there has got to be something more to my life, and is this how my life is going to end? Am I going to be miserable, stressed, and sick, all just to justify my paycheck? Why didn’t I follow my dreams? Why couldn't have I taken school more seriously? Why can't I have a career that I feel passion for? Am I going to wind up like my father? I can’t let this happen. I am only 31 and I feel like I'm 51! And the light bulb went off. I knew I needed to turn my negative energy into a positive force. After a lot of prayer and support, the answer was to quit my job (and stay away forever) and go back to school.

So here I am, back in college enrolled in the Veterinarian Technology program, living in Florida. I came full circle, doing something that always has meaning to me, with a clear plan in mind, because I had to learn the hard way what the consequences are for not getting a degree. I unnecessarily exhausted years of my life that I can never get back, all because I did not stay on the straight and narrow by staying in school and following my dreams. I can’t help to think all of those years I wasted not being in school, not taking it more seriously. Was the extra money worth it? No way. What did I learn? Money cannot buy happiness and your education should tie into a career that will give your life a sense of purpose. Life is not only short, but it goes by so fast. Life’s choices are like karma, and will either come back to haunt you, or it will pay dividends ten fold, financially and emotionally. That’s why it is so important to stay in school and follow your dreams. I was one of the lucky ones that got a second chance, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.


karen said...

I think it is interesting how yuor father had set an account for college....Mine just kicked me out of the house.
May be I should send you my story but it is a tear jerker...

david santos said...

Thanks for posting, Athena. Very good work.

I go to be with the Greek people, and you?

carlos ramos said...

Hi A.D. I liked your story. In the insurance companies how can a degree get you more money? Sales people still make the same. My cousin works for Geico, makes nice money and she dropped out of college.
Anyway I am thinking of going back but I hear of the money and I stall. Most in community colleges are poor. What's the catch?

Athena-Liana Smith said...

Do email us the story...

Thanks for the post on Greece. Here in Tampa we have the second largest Greek community in the US and we have done a good job with the assistance effort.

Rosie said...

That's a lovely story.

Eric Valentine said...

That is a wonderfully well written story, I really enjoyed the read, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

A.D. That was a great story. I just hope more students read it because I fear that they go to college but they do not know their own potential. If it pushes at least one person to go the limit, I think the story will have done it's job.

Taneishia Hamilton said...

I understand how you feel about time being lost but at least you got your priorities in order. Just make sure you stay focused! A lot of people go through these same exact things but they don't know how to identify and correct the problems.

A.D. said...

Hi Carlos - Sorry I took forever to answer your question - My head has been buried in my books! I am taking it VERY serious this time around! I would have to be honest and say that a degree would not have any bearing on your salary- only experience. That's why I dropped out of college the first time around - I was making great money, but I was miserable!Although: some companies will give you some tuition assistance depending on the type of degree. What would you like to study if you returned back to school?

A.D. said...

Karen: I would love to hear your story... I am sure you are an inspiration to people :-)

Rosie & Eric: Thanks!

Anonymous: I hope so too, I know especially at that certain age - we DON'T know our full potential or take it serious - But we think we know it all??????

Taneishia: Your right - I feel like a have a second chance, so I know how important this is, and since I quit my job as well, my husband has not only been emotionally supportive, but financially too, so I will not let him down either. But this is all kind of bittersweet, because I know alot of people don't even get a chance at all.. For this, I thank God.

diana25 said...

Wow What a crazy story for you were on a roller coaster. Well atleast now you are chasing after your dreams once again. That gives me some inititive to stay in college cuz ever since i was 6 i have wanted to be a nurse. College is hard I am not making that good of grades so alot of times I just want to quit but I know I know I wont be happy doing any thing else.

mmedina10 said...


I love the story, I can reflect a lil on the story. I like going to school but i also think about going back every semester because i dont have enough money to raise my kid and have to keep on asking my mom. I hate that feeling but now i am almost done and i can get a great job that i jave always wanted that pays well. Although i only have an AA (but its better than nothing) i plan to get a job and keep on going to school at night to get my bachelors and hopefully get my masters. Once again love your story your an insperation

Brooke said...

This story was extremely shocking. With media involvement this issue could go either way helpul or harmful to the child brides. Its positive that the policeman beat the husband in front of the girl appearing as if they are definitely against it. But on the other hand now the husbands of the child brides might keep them more isolated. Hopefully with this publicity there will be support from other countries and within their own country to ban it.

Brooke said...

I think the situation can be improved by using this publicity to get other countries and people within the countries to help ban this act. Now that it is known what horrible things are happening to these child brides, hopefully everyone will try and help save them and not let it happen to anymore children.

Angelica D. said...

**I AM A.D. =)

diana25 -

I think one of the worst things that I ever did was not follow my dreams in the first place, or I let others influence my decisions. I know that we all want to make great grades, but you know what?? It is not always possible.. And that's OK.... Some of us thrive more in some areas or sometimes we don't test well or it is hard for us to concentrate BUT- when we get out in the real world- we steamroll over people because we are pursuing our dream, and there is nothing more satisfying in life than pursuing your dreams. I've seen people who have 4.0 GPA's, but you know what? They don't always have what it takes to cut it in their profession - because they may have chosen it for the wrong reason (money). You are an inspiration for staying in school and your career choice us also admirable- we all want to quit sometimes - it's a completely normal thought - the difference is who actually sticks with it and makes sacrifices or who just gives up - like me - I just quit school the first time around - and it wasn't a very good decision. I am 31 yrs old - and believe me - had I initially followed my dreams and stayed in school - I would have been done years ago! But no - I learned the harder way - So today on a Sunday -instead of oh - I don't know - relaxing..... I have to write 3 papers and read quite a bit. Homework & studying has turned into a full time job aside from school - It's ok - there is a rainbow at the end of my journey, and yours too!!
PS: One of my good friends is a nurse - She struggled so much in school her grades were so/so, and it wasn't because she wasn't capable - she was just a nervous test taker or sometimes she just felt saturated with information. But college does this to us on purpose - they get us ready for the reasl world - they need to produce people who can cut and and who can handle the stress. Once she starting working after graduation- everything fell into place - she started out with a great salary - has had significant increases, a flexible schedule and most importantly - she loves her job!


thank you for your kind words, but when I read your comment, I do not look at myself as an inspiration - I look at myself as the "consequence" of not following your dreams...

I think people like you are the inspiration -
You are raising a child and still want to sacrifice and go back to school and you already have an AA! And don't say "only" an AA, think of the hard work it took to get that.... I wish I had an AA! If you want to return to school - I really hope you get the opportunity to and make the decision to go - You sound like a real role model for your child. I understand how you feel about asking your mom for money - but remember - if your child needed something - you would do the same, and even more so - one day - you can do the same for your mom - whether it's financial or just emotionally - Our parents take care of us all of our lives - and what I've learned is that I can do the same, and return to them what they did for me - and trust me - I'm not just talking about money... Just somehow some way - saying Thank You. Do you know how proud your mom would be if you went back to school while working with a child? I'm excited for you!

giorgios said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris martinez said...

i think this story shows the reason school is needed in life

chris martinez said...

Karen i think you should send us a story the teacher tells people to send a story if they have one that is good so i hope you post it