Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Day Back at College after 20 Years

By Vincent Walker

At the age of 40 Elisa Walker, wife and mother of two, decided to return to college and get a degree in early childhood education.  She was criticized for her decision by friends and family who didn’t understand her motivation. Elisa Walker was eventually successful in completing her education and acquiring a career.

Although she admitted to feeling silly at her graduation, she brought tears to her family’s eyes as she walked up to get her diploma, making her the first person in her immediate family to get a college education.  To be successful, Elisa Walker had to sacrifice time, money and lifestyle practices in order to reach her goal.  At the end of her college experience, it all payed off.

What was the first day of college like after nearly a twenty year gap? This was the memorable experience I set out to explore.

I asked Elisa, who had attended college after high school, why she had made the decision to quit when she did. She replied that at the time she didn’t want a career.  She was attending college because she thought it was the right thing to do. She wanted to get married, have children and be a stay-at-home mother. At the age of 21 she got married and due to her husband’s steady income, there was no financial reason for her to continue attending classes and eventually have a career. She had her first child at 24 and another child at 28. She was a stay-at-home mother until age 40.

My follow-up question was, “Why did you go back to school?” She replied that many years ago she had promised her grandmother and great aunt, now deceased, that she would finish school.  Also, she herself reached the conclusion that her children were older and would soon be out on their own, leaving her with nothing to do. She had early knowledge of the void-to-be and she wanted a career to give her future more purpose. She also added that the extra money sounded nice.

Now that I found out more about why Elisa had chosen to go back to school, I wanted to find out more about her first day back. I asked what the first day back was like. The reply I got back was “Scary.”  She stated that she was scared for many reasons. Possibly, she would be the oldest student and make no friends. She feared a heavy work load. I then asked about her thoughts on the situation after class. “Better” was her answer. She was not the oldest and was able to immediately make friends. However, the workload was very difficult. But in the end, she said, it was all worth it.

This interview was a successful and interesting experience. I learned a lot about someone I love very much and about a memorable moment that many people, especially at age 40, might not dare to take.

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