Graduation: A Decade-Long Journey

Carrie Profile PicA 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

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I Work Out

Carrie Profile PicThis is a blog post written by student staff member, Carrie Cleveland.

This post is reflective of my own journey in trying to embrace who I am while trying to work on improving my overall health.  I chose to write about what I am doing because it is an important part of who I am right now. Everyone has their own path, this just happens to be mine.

So I joined a gym. Not just a regular gym with a bunch of treadmills and elliptical machines. I joined  Conquest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA gym. I mean, what middle aged, overweight woman decides that this is the way that she’s going to lose weight?  At least, I didn’t think it would be my personal path. But, it went something like this… Continue reading

A Feminist, Who Knew?

Carrie Profile PicA post written by Women’s Center student staff member, Carrie Cleveland

I have never been one to label myself a feminist. I think it is because what comes into my mind when I think of feminism is the 1960s – 1970s pop culture version where women were marching in the street and burning their bras (come to find out that this idea in my head is actually a myth). I never really identified with those women, so I pushed the topic to the side. THEN….. I started working here in the Women’s Center.

As a staff member, we are all encouraged to actively learn and one of the ways that I’m doing that is by reading. My background on all things feminism is much more  grounded in pop culture than it is theory. I’ve never taken a Gender and Women’s Studies class, like so many of my Women’s Center peers. Sometimes I struggle with the language and the theory so we thought this would be a good way for me to start my learning. Jess suggested that I dip my toe into the feminist blogosphere and start with some more approachable topics and accessible authors. As I’m reading and clicking and getting lost in all things women, I came across this blog written by Jamie Kennedy titled 10 Things Feminist Moms Do Differently Than Any Other Parents.

As I was scrolling, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. One of the first ideas the author presents is about disrupting gender norms. Now I have three girls and a VERY handy husband. He’s always building or fixing something so we did not hesitate to get my kids a tool set when they were little. When my husband was beginning a project, my daughter would run down and grab her hammer so she could help her dad with something. Perhaps these experiences are why she sees being a scientist and an astronaut as career options. I never thought of that as feminist idea, more so that she wanted to hang out with her dad. Look at that! I did not even know I was challenging gender norms. Go me!  Continue reading

My Lesson in Women’s History to the GOP Candidates

A blog reflection from Women’s Center staff member, Carrie Cleveland

Carrie Profile PicI watched the Republican debate twice.  Yes.  That is six hours of my life I spent listening, analyzing, and forming my own opinions about the candidates. I went in with some preconceived notions.  I knew any talk about Planned Parenthood would make me upset because this group of people fail to acknowledge what Planned Parenthood does for women who do not have access to gynecological care.  I was surprised when Donald Trump said he believes we need to spread out the vaccinations that children get because I feel the same way, but I’ll save that post for another day.  I was hoping to see Carly Fiorina carry the torch for  women, but she let me down.

Ms. Fiorina especially let me down when at the end the candidates were asked a “lighthearted” question about having a woman on the ten dollar bill, but so did most of the candidates. Senator Ron Paul chose Susan B. Anthony (yeah!) but then Mike Huckabee said his wife.  Wow.  Not to say anything negative about his wife Janet, but was he so unable to think of ONE woman who did anything for this country? Earlier in the debate he went on and on about ninth grade civics class but clearly Mr. Huckabee needs to spend some time learning about the great women of this country.  Continue reading

Working Mom: A New Adventure

A blog reflection written by Women’s Center student staff member, Carrie Cleveland

For the past ten years I have not had a paying job.  For the past ten years I have been home raising children.  For the past ten years my boss (or bosses) were little people who required me to tend to their every need. That is not a job where anyone gives you money.  There are performance reviews, bonuses, deadlines, and a ton of stress, but no monetary paycheck.

This week I started my first paying job in ten years.  I am the newest student staff member at the Women’s Center.  I am helping to program the Peer Connections Program for Returning Women Students for the next academic year.  Day one was perfect.  I was here on time, got my work done and went home without any drama.  Day two, well that is a different story.

Two hours into my five hour shift I got a phone call from my daughter’s school.  Luckily my husband was home so he could handle the situation, but he seems to forget that I am a work.  I am here to do a job and I am not available to answer every question immediately.  Now, I am not a globe-trotting mechanical engineer like he is, but this is a job and something that means a great deal to me.  So, after a quick little vent to my supervisor, Jess, I realize I may need to set some limits with him.

As I enter the world of a working person again, this means that some things in my home life will change.  I feel like it is a good build up to when I have a full time job as a social worker in a couple of years.  I also think it is great that my three daughters see that mom can do things that are important to her and that my life does not completely revolve around their lives.  So here I am.  A working mom.  Not a title I ever envisioned for myself, but I kinda dig it.