I returned back to school because I was tired of feeding and believing my redundant excuses such as “I’ve been out of college for over 18 years”; “How would I repay my student loans?” And “how would I juggle full-time employment and being a full-time student?” But my truth was I was scared, scared to fail, scared to challenge myself. I initially allowed fear to dictate my life and halt my destiny. It left me in a debilitating place in my life because I was trying to figure out what was my purpose; I struggled for quite some time trying to understand why I was so unhappy and angry. I blamed others for my emotional and unpredictable mood swings. I did some soul searching and realized why I was unhappy and angry, I wasn’t pleased with the job I’ve been with for 9 years, my life felt so monotonous without a purpose or a reason and I didn’t feel like I was making a difference.
I knew what I was passionate about, but I needed to understand how to execute it. I truly believe I was given a gift, and that’s to give back to those in need. I want to provide support and understanding, but for me to assist someone else with support, I have to provide support to myself. I have to begin the process again of believing in myself, knowing my worth and knowing that all things are possible. I started feeling good about myself again because I realized this was my new beginning.
I knew very little about Metropolitan College of New York, so I decided to do my research. MCNY offered Human Services with flexible course schedules, so the only thing that was left for me to do was to enroll. I was still apprehensive because fear was still my security blanket, but I told myself there will be no more excuses; I have something to prove to myself and to see through on my passion; I needed to start living my truth.
September 13, 2014, I began my journey at Metropolitan College of New York as a full time student, majoring in Human Services. I will admit, I have a very challenging road ahead, but I’m following my passion because I believe that’s what I’m meant to do. Taking the time to evaluate who I am has definitely changed my perception of what I’m capable of doing. All things are possible if I believe in myself and stay focused and determined. I’ve been standing in my own way for quite some time, but I’ve made a conscious decision to get off the bench and begin playing on the court.
If you feel stuck about where to start with your writing or where to go next, you are not alone. Here is a list of tips from pros for how to get your juices flowing when it seems like the well of ideas has run dry.
Some facts and figures from Harper’s Index (September, 2014) regarding education, race, national energy politics and more. A statistician’s dreamboat! Possibly profound, disturbing and hilarious for the rest of us.
The most-read article in the history of the magazine The New Republic is “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.” Published in July as an excerpt from author William Deresiewicz’s book Excellent Sheep, it started a national conversation about higher education, and one of the most interesting responses, published in the same magazine, is titled “The Trouble With Harvard.” Both offer provocative thoughts on education, classes, standardized testing, and the point of college.
In New York Times article, “Taking Fares, and Writing in Between,” Rohter (2014) shows how Syrian poet-in-exile Osama Alomar does just that from the driver’s seat of his cab in Chicago. A pile of dictionaries ride along with him in the front seat, and a notebook at the ready. Writer Lydia Davis calls his work “very imaginative and vivid and exhilarating,” and I find his grit and dedication also an exhilarating reminder of what little moments can add up to.
At first glance, the picture below might seem familiar –an old map of the Amazon River and its tributaries. Looking more closely, you may find this map increasingly curious… Armenia? Spain? Athens? Along the Amazon? In fact, this image is from the first text book for American school children, a textbook written in 1824 by feminist and innovative educator, Emma Willard. She created this map and diagram for students to memorize European history, in this case the progression of the Roman Empire, by diagraming that expansion visually onto the course of the Amazon. If you click onto the map below, a link will take you to version of the map that you can zoom into and see much more clearly.
Some LEC students have found it helpful to do thought maps too — of a different kind — as an initial method of visually organizing their ideas. Below, you can find an example of a thought map (about thought mapping) from the internet. Click onto it to find a link.
And here is a picture of Aston Powell, BBA 2015, standing in front of his thought map.
Damon Horowitz, who teaches college-level philosophy courses to inmates at San Quentin State Prison, discusses “right,” “wrong,” and the intersection of real life experiences and Socrates. His inspiring Ted Talk is less than five minutes long, but it leaves a lasting impact.
On the final day of July, just two weeks before the Summer 2014 semester concluded, the LEC hosted its second Student Recognition Ceremony, honoring MCNY students who had spent three or more sessions in the LEC. The ceremony, which was held in the 12th floor Art Gallery at the Manhattan campus, featured introductory remarks from LEC and Mentoring Coordinator Dwight Hodgson and Director of Academic Support Parker Pracjek, as well as comments from LEC Specialists. This time, Dan Katz, Vice President for Academic Affairs, addressed to the students, and the event had its first keynote speak, Emergency Disaster and Management alumnus Elie Jerome (who provided us with the photos, except for the one he’s in). Below are pictures from the event.
Parker Pracjek, Director of Academic Support (left), and Yasmine Alwan, Writing Specialist (right), laugh with keynote speaker Elie Jerome (center)
Virginia Maldonado has lived in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn her whole life. In addition to being a student in the Business Administration Bachelor’s program here at MCNY, Virginia works as a home health aid. After raising nine children, she attests, her work in the home healthcare service has given her the opportunity to continue to deepen her sense of patience.
Studying for her Associate’s degree was challenging work, and her vocal cord seizures added to the struggle. After completing her AA, Virginia felt she’d never return to school. But it wasn’t long before she started to miss being in school, and when she visited MCNY, she knew it was the right fit. Someone she spoke to here had reviewed her transcripts, and upon seeing how well she did as a business student, urged her to enroll in the Business Administration program at MCNY. The fact that this person believed in Virginia instilled in her a confidence that helped her decide to enroll here and continue to achieve academic success in the field of business.
When she first started here, Virginia felt like she was cranking her brain up like an old engine. It was challenging! But it was so satisfying to get positive feedback and realize, “Wow! I’m really doing this! I wrote this essay! I prepared this Business Plan! I’m doing this!” She has not allowed her age to get in the way of her education.
The teachers and students Virginia has encountered here have opened doors for her and inspired her to make positive choices about her education. With their help, she’s developed effective learning strategies that have helped her reach her goals, she’s felt motivated to pick up the phone and get things done. She has felt empowered to not allow obstacles to stand in the way of her success.
In addition to feeling motivated by her teachers and fellow students, when Virginia encounters challenges, she thinks of her nine children. It’s important to her to be a model to them, and to prove to them by example, that it’s never too late to advance your education. She hopes that her own perseverance will help her children believe in themselves and not get discouraged by their age or any other obstacles. Her oldest son is currently working with an outreach program to educate young people about reproductive health and substance abuse, and he plans to stay with the program and enroll in college through a scholarship they offer their employees. Virginia is very proud of him, and she smiles, reminded by his success and her own that “age ain’t nothing but a number!”