Published on 2012/06/13

Looking Back on the Most Important Year of My Life

One year into a two year degree, a student takes a look back on the path that brought him to the college. Photo by Antonio Olmedo.

Two years ago I quit my job as an administrative assistant with few prospects, little money in the bank but a fire in my belly. I was tired of being someone’s secretary… I wanted a job where I could have a secretary!

I know that sounds a little rough, but it gets old after a while. Being around so many successful people for five years, doing filing, scheduling meetings and (let’s be honest) getting coffees made me want to do more with my life.

Besides, I’m a father and, once I had a child of my own it made me realize I wanted to be someone my daughter could look up to. The first time around, I dropped out of college after one semester.

“What’s the point? How’s this going to help me get a job?” I’m eating my words now but hey, live and learn.

So I decided—that’s it. I had enough of getting by and decided to take a risk in my life. My employers wouldn’t give me time to get my degree and they didn’t really seem interested in giving a secretary the chance at earning their degree, so I quit.

My first move was finding out what the “hot” industries are these days, and so I settled on the green-tech industry. Specifically I’m pursuing a degree in the Alternative Energy Program.

Basically, this degree is going to give me the knowledge and skills to join a company and lead their efforts to meet their environmental goals; I’m learning about things like alternative energies, how to plan energy efficient building projects—it’s really wide ranging.

There are a few things I wish were different. I realize it’s a full degree program but I wish there were more weekend and evening, or even online options to complete it. As it stands, I’m selling shoes on the weekend to make ends meet (and I have the support of a loving and infinitely patient wife!). On the plus side, I get to spend a little more time with my daughter than I otherwise would and that can’t be undercounted.

And you know what? I have no doubt that it’s going to be worth it. When I finish this degree I will probably be able to waltz into the job market but, even if I don’t get something right away, this gives me the platform I need to hop into a four-year university and get the degree I turned my back on a decade ago. And that’s something.

Do I have regrets about my decision? No. I chucked my job and went to college for a degree, and for a career. I went to college so I can look my daughter in the eye and tell her about hard work, perseverance and dedication.

One year down… one year to go!

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Readers Comments

Chelsea Bellows 2012/06/13 at 1:10 pm

Best of luck! Deciding to take such a major step with your life is more than half the battle — being successful in that switch comes naturally from deciding to change your life.

Jeannie Sullivan 2013/03/02 at 3:54 pm

Robert, you are an inspiration! So many things I admire about your story, but most of all your willingness to walk away from limitations and into possibility. Best of luck to you!!


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