Deciding to return to college after twenty years or more was a decision that did not come easy. I had a full-time job, three kids, a husband, I was contemplating becoming a dog owner, but not really thinking about returning to school to pursue my PhD.
I am an avid learner, but from an early age I was challenged in school. I typically performed below average on standardized tests and was often placed in remedial classes. Still, I loved school. At an early age my mother, who dropped out school in the tenth grade, told me “You’re going to college.” She was a single mother raising five children on a housekeeper’s salary and my number one advocate! Towards the end of my high school journey, she had a massive heart attack and died. I was devastated, but I never lost my love for learning. I enrolled in college and developed my four-year plan. On my commencement day, my sister told me “Now you must get your master’s degree.” With the support of my family I persevered and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Master’s in Public Administration. Prior to graduating from my master’s program, I got married, moved to Texas, and started working.
Fast-forward twelve years later, I had been working for several years as a human resources professional and life was grand! By the time I reached forty, I had a three beautiful children, a house, and a fantastic career. But, I kept feeling like there was something else I should be doing. I would often reflect on my mother’s wish for me go to college. I would think to myself, okay mom, I did it, and I got my degree. Plus, I had my master’s degree. However, there was still something missing. So, I did the unthinkable: I left my lucrative human resources job. I took a job at a local university in DFW as a Research Associate in the School of Public Health and yes, I found my purpose. I labored unconditionally in underserved communities across DFW providing health education programs on disease prevention and wellness and enjoyed every moment of the job. Five years went by quick, I began researching PhD programs and remember asking myself, “What are you doing?!” Nevertheless, I keep searching. I applied to a few programs and was not accepted, but I was determined to live out my purpose and purse my PhD in public health. I began working with faculty at a local DFW University and discovered their Health Studies program focusing on Health Education and Health Promotion. I was accepted to the program and just completed my first year of doctoral school.
It is true what they say, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I am enjoying navigating my way through school, and looking forward to the exciting twist and turns that make life awesome. If you are a returning student and this is not your first rodeo show, but you need eye glasses now to enjoy the view, I would love to hear your story!