I had a dream

Kimberly Bottoms, Contributing Writer
April 28, 2014
Filed under Columns

The first day, palms sweaty, heart racing, head pounding, as I walked along the sidewalk, entered Knobview Hall, climbed up the stairs and walked into the classroom, slithering into the desk closest to the doorway, just in case I lost my nerve and decided to leave, I could make a quick exit.

This day was taken from a scene out my life when I decided to return to college after 19 years.  Exactly what had I gotten myself into?  The professor looked to be barely 30 years old, and with that being said he welcomed the class to English-131 summer session.  Not only was the professor barely 30, but the other students in the room appeared even younger, and then there was me.

In spite of the given situation, before entering that classroom, I had set a goal for myself and planned to achieve it no matter what.  Already having two associate degrees under my belt, they say the third time’s a charm, and I was determined to acquire the charm this time.  Nothing was going to stand in my way of graduating with a bachelor’s degree.

To lend a bit of history behind my story, I worked as an administrative assistant in corporate America for 19 years.  My job did not challenge me at all.  Day after day turned into year after year, and towards the end I was utterly miserable with not only the job but with myself for not finishing my bachelor’s degree.  I felt no matter how hard I tried or how well of a job I did it simply wasn’t enough for me.

The company let me go, and I could not have been happier.  When one door closes, another one opens, and that is exactly how it happened.  I was probably the happiest person standing in line downtown at the unemployment office.  While collecting my unemployment I was working on my next career path and that was just fine by me.

By the end of English-131 I found perspective about the career path I wanted to take.  My professor went above and beyond for me.  It was almost as if he sensed what I was feeling.  He spent extra time with me discussing my writing.  Not because I was incapable of writing, but because he sensed I had a lot inside and he guided me on how to tap into my talents and write for audiences.  After years of working a thankless job finally somebody noticed me as a person and it felt great.

Fall semester started, and unlike summer, things were a lot different on campus.  It appeared the population of students grew.  Parking spots were at a premium, and everything I did was an uphill climb, and I say that in the literal sense.  With a full-time load came a full stack of books.  I’ve always been one to stay in shape but honestly, walking with a stack of books on my hip a mile up a hill, to get to my first class, was not an easy task.  Lesson learned — never carry more than what you need at a time.

As time passed I began to feel more comfortable in my new role as a college student, but there were still those moments when I felt like the big whale in a small pond with all of the other little fishes swimming past me.  I chalked this thought up to a mere figment of my imagination and continued on with my journey.  I told myself everyone is here for the same reason, to get an education, and to keep my eye on the prize.

The dream almost came to a screeching halt during my third semester.  All majors at IUS require some type of math.  Let me just say, math is not my forte.  I remember walking out of math class on the first day and literally crying big crocodile tears thinking, how am I going to pass this class?  I haven’t looked at math in 20 years.

Expecting the worst, the next day I walked right into the math department and confronted my professor about my fears.  She put my mind at ease immediately, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Kimberly, you will get through this class, I promise.”  Literally with her help and others within the IUS math department and all of my hard work, I passed math with a C grade.  It was the hardest C I had ever earned.

There were times when I caught myself missing my former cushy job in corporate America, but all I had to do was remember how miserable I used to be, and immediately the thought went by the wayside.  I had shed my beautiful black sports car, corporate wardrobe and salary, but still remained happier than I had been in years about my life and the possibilities in waiting.

Last but not least was the day I met Jody Hamilton, my college soul sister.  We both started on the Horizon the same semester not knowing the first thing about broadcast news, and it was an adventure.  Partnering up and learning about how to do our first-ever news stories for the Horizon was overwhelming, but with Jody, it turned out to be some of my best times in college.  Thanks, Jody!

Every moment I have spent at IUS has not been wasted in the least.  I am proud of the many relationships developed and the life-long friendships made, but most of all the lessons I have taken away studying and working with my younger counterparts.  Everyone has something special to bring to the table, and from that something I have grown as a person and have learned to appreciate what each has to offer.  It has given me hope that the future is brighter because of these young individuals.

On May 12, 2014, I will be walking in the graduation ceremony, only this time my palms won’t be sweaty, my heart won’t be racing and my head won’t be pounding.  Instead I will be at peace with myself because of the journey completed and another new door opening.

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