Growing up, I struggled in school. I had issues paying attention because my mind was always distracted by other things. The distractions made me feel as if school wasn’t for me. In 2006, I didn’t get the chance to walk across the stage in my Senior year of high school. I did receive my diploma, however, during that summer after completing one last assignment the school had required.
I went on to start at a four-year university in Southern California – California State Univerity Northridge (CSUN), where, yet again, I wasn’t focused and my mind was distracted. Initially, my grades were good but they suffered during my sophomore year. I was penalized by the school for having a low GPA, therefore deciding to drop out. I dabbled in community college throughout the years, but never really accomplished much.
By the age of 25, I was soon-to-be-married and had experienced great opportunities as a title holder for the Miss California Latina Organization. I was Miss Los Angeles California Latina 2013, which was a title that allowed me to become known throughout communities in Hollywood and Los Angeles.
I loved the organization because it showed me a new set of values for women beyond being a sex symbol. The organization represented women who were beautiful, cultural, and educated. For the first time in a long time, I was around a group of women who were educated and it was inspiring. But I still wasn’t so sure if the education path was for me.
Expressing my uncertainties with my fiance (at the time), he explained that if I really wanted to succeed I would need an education. He encouraged and pushed me to return telling me that it was something that I could do if I put my mind to it.
Despite my reservations, I enrolled at LAVC (Los Angeles Valley College) to try and earn credits I needed to transfer back to CSUN. I was terrified upon my return. I was older than most students and I felt out of place being unaware of the terrain. The school work didn’t make the experience any easier. Not being in a classroom for quite some time made learning difficult. I eventually fell behind.
When my partner found out he was so disappointed. He said I couldn’t let myself slip. That I was smart enough and giving up wasn’t an option. He advised me to check into my professors’ office hours and tutoring labs. So I did and I began putting in as much extra effort as I could. My grades started to pick up and I gained more confidence in completing my school work.
Soon, I had completed my credits and it was time for me to transfer back to CSUN; which brought back a new set of fears, despite my recent scholastic accomplishments. I was so nervous returning back to the university. But after a couple of weeks into my first semester, the fear started to ease up. I realized that I knew what I could do as a student from my experience at LAVC, and I started to thrive. I received mostly A’s in all of my classes and whenever classes got tough, I went the extra mile to study, audio record classes, and seek help.
In 2017, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies. It took about 10 years, but I did it! It was the most gratifying feeling I’ve ever experienced. I met the most insightful professors and learned things that I wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. I really did accomplish something that I never thought I could have, even through my split and divorce with my now ex-husband.
Most importantly, going back to school as an adult taught me how to be a lifelong learner. A skill that helps me grow in all aspects today. If you’re considering returning back to school after time off (doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away), I’d encourage you to go for it. If you take it seriously, you’ll discover so much growth in yourself. There are also many resources schools have access to to help you grow professionally. I promise you’ll be so proud to fill in your education part of your resume. I know I am!