This spring 2014, we were overwhelmed with several hundred scholarship applications! The GMR Transcription Scholarship Program awards a $500 award to two college students for demonstrating high scholastic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities, and financial need of scholarship. Of all the applicants, we narrowed it down to two winners.
Today, we will be sharing a heart-warming essay about a single mother who has managed to make it through college while also balancing a full-time job. Husson University student, Jennifer Gomez, shares her story:
We are given the name, untraditional student, in the university atmosphere. The expectations are the same as those for traditional students, and yet our lives are usually more jammed packed with adult responsibilities. Working as a student, and learning to balance work, school, and social aspects of our lives, is challenging in itself. I suppose I can be considered a masochist because I threw being a full time student, employee, and Mother into the mix. My journey to this point in my life has had its hardships, but I truly believe that the hard work I put in will all be worth it. I have people ask me all the time, “How do you do it?” Honestly, I do not really think about how jammed packed my life is. I get up in the morning, or stay up after an overnight, and do what I need to do because I have to.
In high school, I did not have the thought that I was going to be an untraditional student. I had a plan to graduate early, attend University of Southern Maine, graduate with a bachelor’s degree by the age of twenty, and then work on my graduate program. As it is with most high school dreams, things did not go exactly according to plan. I ended up graduating a year early at the age of sixteen. From there, I did attend University of Southern Maine but ended up dropping out mid-semester. I moved back to my hometown and started working full time. At the age of eighteen, I ended up becoming pregnant with my son. I got married at nineteen and continued to work full time at entry level jobs. My son is what gave me the inspiration to return to school, and made me want to better myself. I started with doing online courses through University of Phoenix, thinking that it would be easier with the two other full time jobs I had at the time. I have no personal issues with individuals who obtain their degrees online, but I did not feel like I was learning as adequately as I had been while attending classes live.
In April of 2011, I decided it was time to apply to some local colleges. I applied to Husson University for the fall 2011 semester, and was accepted. At this point in my path, I was working overnights at my current job as a mental health professional. Being a freshman at college, the schedules are created by the academic advisors. My work and school schedule consisted of: twelve hour overnights at work Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday along with school Monday through Friday. This led to barely any sleep, for when I was home I was raising my wonderful son. At this point in time, my husband and I had separated and I was living as a single parent. We ended up getting a divorce a little while after.
I will be going into my senior year at Husson University in the fall of 2014. Looking back at my scholastic journey, coupled with my career, there were many hardships I have had to cope with. I have pushed myself to the limits physically and emotionally. I think the hardest part of this journey is the time I feel like I have missed with my son. With such a busy schedule, I miss out on some of the great memories with him. The moments where I can see the pride in my son’s eyes make all the hardships worth it. This past semester I was accepted into Lambda Epsilon Chi, which is the national paralegal honor society. My son was able to see the induction ceremony, and the look on his face almost brought tears to my eyes.
When I first got into the paralegal program at Husson, I wanted to attend law school. Unfortunately, the only law school in the state of Maine is the Maine school of Law in Portland. The custody arrangement between my son’s father and I would not work with being so far apart. I do not want to drag my son through a nasty custody battle, so I changed my plans. When I went to the Maine school of law open house, just to check it out, I also found out that as a law student you are only allowed to work at a job for twenty hours a week. Being a single parent, I could not foresee this working out. I decided that it best for my family to go into the workforce as a paralegal post-graduation. This will allow me to gain experience, build a bank account, and allow my son to stay in this area. I am hoping after some time, that I will be able to go to law school. Perhaps in this time, a law school will open up closer to where my living situation is now.
If chosen for this scholarship, I will use the money towards the books and supplies needed for the upcoming semester. School books are a large expense, and due to living paycheck- to-paycheck right now, they can cut into my budget.
Being an untraditional student has made me the person I am today. It takes a lot of drive, responsibility, and personal motivation to work full time and be a student. The key is to keep the end goal in mind and find a reason for what you are doing. Some people are able to find this internally or externally. For me personally it was both, and I have no regrets.