In the spring, I received notice that my university financial aid would not be processed unless I declared a major, met with an advisor and laid out a course schedule hurtling me toward graduation. I was informed that financial aid would no longer pay for any courses not directly involved with obtaining the degree I sought. Such is the penalty for going back for a second undergraduate degree and having no money. I have to know what I want to be when I grow up.
Some time back, I grew weary of the corporate grind, the machinations, the end of the world scenarios every time something goes wrong, the obvious greed and lack of empathy from those who have scaled the corporate mountain. I kept telling Bashert I needed to get back in school and find something else to do with my life. She finally told me to “shit or get off the pot”. In other words, do something about it or shut up. I chose to return to school.
I returned with the full intention of moving on to a graduate program here at our state Medical University. I didn’t want to become a physician, but gain a doctorate and do research. Neuroscience and psychopharmacology were the two beacons lighting my way. I am fascinated with the way the brain works. I had a dream.
I volunteered to work the night shift so that I could have my days to attend classes and study. I worked it out with my nightside partners whereby I would be the one to “close” every night except Wednesdays, the night before I had a lab class scheduled. Working the later night shift would also give me more time to spend with Yoda, picking him up from school and having supper together with Bashert.
When I got to school, it was if I had entered a magic kingdom. I’d forgotten how much I love to learn. Having a lifetime of experiences behind me, I felt much surer of myself. No longer the first time attending, scared teenager or that voiceless woman coming out of a horrible divorce situation, I was there for a purpose and with a self authority I lacked before.
My resolve of purpose faltered a year into my studies with the introduction of Evolutionary Biology and PreCalculus.
Now let me pause here just one moment and let you know something about myself. I am bitter. You see, I graduated the first time around with a GPA of 3.499 and it didn’t get rounded up. Yep, I missed cum laude by 1/1000th of a point. You know why I graduated with a 3.499?
In 1979, I took College Algebra, earned a D and it has haunted my GPA ever since. Never mind that I returned to school, took it over and made an A, no, in college it all counts and never goes away.
What do Evolutionary Biology and PreCalculus concern? Math – lots and lots of math.
That semester was a living hell of math.
I managed to eke out a B in both classes. EvoBio was saved by my writing ability and obnoxious eagerness to have everything turned in early. PreCalculus was saved only by my four day marathon study session for the final and the good graces of the adjunct professor, who dropped three tests grades.
I looked at the remaining classes I would be required to take to earn my B.S. and move on. Chemistry I&II & Organic – math; Physics I&II- math; Calculus – math; Genetics – math.
It was then I realized that I was not going to be able to realize my dreams of moving on to any PhD. program in science. Perhaps if I was younger with more time and energy to devote myself strictly to the programs, I could do it, at least that’s what I would like to think. But with a family to care for, health issues and a job that costs me 45-60 hours a week, excluding travel time, it just wasn’t going to happen. I simply don’t bounce back like I used to and there are sacrifices I’m not ready to make. So, I had to release that dream.
It hasn’t been easy giving up. I practically gave up writing and I my camera still lies unused. I grudgingly declared an English major and met with the English vice-chair for advisement. Corporate drudgery stared me down hard. I felt defeated, weary and wasteful. At this point in my life, what use was studying 19th century British literature going to do? I sulked most of my way through last spring and the summer.
It has taken until now to climb my way back out of that hole of disappointment.
Glimmers of light are beginning to shine through. I have partners that I work with in my business life that I enjoy and trust now. And while Family Bedlam is well, still bedlam, we are a family doing the best we can with love and hope. This semester I am taking classes I really enjoy and I have an appointment to speak with someone in the Communications department about switching to an area of study that might just help me in my present career. If I cannot move on to a different world outside then perhaps I can make the world I exist in now a little bit better.
I guess that’s the good thing about dreams. One can always build another.
Photo Credit: Photo by Vail. Undated. mtholyoke.edu