Education: About Me, Part II

Education is the remedy to poverty. I learned this early on. I watched my father, a brilliant man, work endless blue collar days to support a family he created much too early. My mother had quit our family shortly after I came into the world. My childhood consisted of myself, a much beloved older sister, and my father. My father determined that we would not do as he and my mother had done, allowing hormones and emotions to overthrow common sense, jeopardizing futures for lack of contraception.

By the time I was college ready, I struggled with the idea of a major. I adored writing, I adored reading. You would think my major selection would be straight forward. But as I addressed in my blog, Ruth, I had burning questions that required answering. I felt if I could understand human thinking and human behaviors I might be better prepared for the world, and be more capable of helping others.

I gave myself a few years to think about it as I signed up for basic, transferable courses at Austin Community College before I declared a major. This is one of the best decisions I ever made and I highly recommend community college as a starting point for college-bound, young adults. I was a first-generation college student, no one I knew in my immediate family had gone and I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I built a high GPA and all my courses were paid via scholarships and grants as a result. In the meantime, I figured out what I wanted to study while relishing all creative writing courses, and wrote short stories just for fun. I loved my intro psychology and sociology courses too. It was a dilemma.

When it came time to declare my major and enroll into a 4-year college, I applied and was accepted to UT Austin, but eventually accepted an offer from St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas. UT Austin is a wonderful school, truly. In many respects, I wish I had gone there if only to spare something of my present day tuition repayments, but my lifelong anxiety largely dictated my decision. The size of UT overwhelmed me when I visited the campus and I felt I could not breathe. When I visited St. Ed’s, not only could I breathe, I felt excitement about continuing my education. I felt a part of the campus just by visiting it, never mind the potential connectivity as a student.

Eight years later, I finished a BA in psychology and earned an MA in counseling. Magna cum laude first, summa cum laude second. I worked hard for that 4.0 while earning my master’s degree, completing an unpaid part-time internship, and working 30 hours a week. I had no social life, and there were goings-on in general I missed out on, but I don’t regret it.

I’ve enjoyed a wonderful career as a university counselor. I loved campus life so much I decided to put my education to work in the education system.

I’m thankful I chose psychology and counseling. There are times when I am frustrated as a new writer, learning things the hard way, making juvenile mistakes when addressing literary agents and representing my manuscript. But I still don’t regret it. I’ve been touched by the countless stories of the students I’ve had the privilege to work with. Many of their stories I have incorporated into my work. The story of Ruth would not have the depth it does, the multiple layers of perspectives it has had so many paths not come across mine.
Austin, Texas