A final reflection from Carrie Cleveland as a undergraduate and Women’s Center staff member
In the fall of 1996, I started my college journey at Douglass College at Rutgers University. I spent a brief three semesters at Rutgers, mostly floundering around and hating my choice of major (pre-business). In December of 1997, I left college and began working at Starbucks. I managed to support myself, but barely. I spent a few years at Starbucks, but knew that this was not what I wanted to do with my life.
When I decided to leave the retail/restaurant world, I had a hard time finding another job that would pay me a living wage. I was told that my lack of college degree made me “highly unemployable” in the words of one recruiter. It was then that I tried to get back to school. I could never figure out how to pay for it and cover my living expenses. I had no idea what I was doing in terms of financial aid and loans. I never asked for help. I just kept on working low paying jobs that had no professional opportunities for growth and thought I would go back to school later.
Time passed. I got married and had a baby. We then picked up and moved from New Jersey to Maryland. In my new home, I felt isolated with a husband who worked A LOT, a newborn baby to care for, and no nearby family or friends. I convinced my husband that it would be a good idea for me to go back to school, even if it was just to have some social interaction with people who could form complete sentences.
In the fall of 2007, I re-started my college journey at Anne Arundel Community College. I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I *grew up* (mind you, I was almost 30 at the time), but I walked through the door thinking I would get my general education credits done and figure it out from there. In the meantime, I would go on to have another baby, find my calling (social work), graduate from AACC, and have ANOTHER baby.
While my story is uniquely me, it isn’t necessarily a unique story. Continue reading