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Deciding to See the Light

In dark times, it is difficult to see the light. Through her own dark times, Ryan discovered she needed to return to higher education in order to provide the support others need to see the light themselves. Photo by Odina.

Going back to school is never an easy choice for most people particularly for the majority that have families and/or jobs to manage. This was the decision I had to make years ago. But before I made the decision to go back to school, I had to make an important decision of what I wanted to do with my life. Before attending college, I was in a difficult time in my life- a dark time. I was unsure of who I was—as a person, as a parent—and my dreams were beginning to become distant. I was distressed with the circumstances of life and did not know how to regain my future.

What I have learned about the weather is that when it rains I find myself appreciating the sun. When I was in those dark parts of life it challenged me to look for the light. But I didn’t want to consume the light just for myself; I wanted to share it with others. This was the revelation that I needed. I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives by running my own nonprofit organization, an organization that would help children and families to become stronger as a family during dark times, helping them find the light in life.

I had a mission! I started by going to the public library many times to look up books that showed “how to start a nonprofit organization” and “how to become a legal entity”. I researched and researched to learn more about nonprofit organizations, making a business plan, managing business finances, and other related topics. I did all that I could on that level, but I needed to go onto the next level. This is where the Lord led me to go to the next level which was to go to college and to choose which one.

I got accepted into Duquesne University under the School of Leadership of Professional Advancement (SLPA) program for adult learners. I love this program. I appreciate the structure of the SLPA program, the students, the administration, the professors, the resources, and different networks the school offers. In the beginning I had to learn how to overcome many hurdles. For example, I had to learn how to make friends as an adult. It may seem easy to some people, but for me I felt like I was exposed. Like I was the only one with a troubled past and had a lot on my plate. This wasn’t true. The first class I had in the morning my professor made the class (15 or so students) arrange our seats in a circle and state our names, why we are here, and other information we’d like to share. It was the ice-breaker I needed. Semesters later, I made friends which also included professors. I overcame the fear of inadequacy and isolation. I had to overcome a lot of insecurities about myself and going to college, but fortunately I was surrounded by people that cared. Learning new things within a new environment was difficult, but keeping my eye on the prize helps motivate me to continue the journey.

I look back now to see all that God has helped me to accomplish, it feels great. I am a single mother of three young ones, yet still have a grounded hope that I will complete college, gain my degree, and throw myself to the world to help it find the light in dark places. It is important to me to be effective because I know how it can affect other people’s lives; this includes my children’s lives. Therefore the steps that I take toward my future, build my future. Faith and motivation are the foundation, but having the right knowledge is the blueprint of my future.

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