In my 20’s and 30s, my life was on track with the American
dream. I had completed a paramedic
program, passed all required state and federal tests, and had a great work
ethic and communication skills. All
these accomplishments helped me to achieve a successful career and eventually a
supervisory role within my organization, earning enough to support my two
daughters as a single parent.
Although I enjoyed my career as a paramedic is had taken its
toll on my family and decided it was time for a change. I delayed making this change until my
daughters became older and continued to work while perusing my degree in
architectural design with Moberly Area Community College.
I am keenly aware that I am in the minority when I walk into
classrooms filled with male students half my age. During the first few weeks, I was a little
self-conscious with the age difference but quickly realized that I could not
let the age gap distract me from furthering my education. To help combat the self-consciousness I
organized a study group that not only helped with the class it also opened up
communications with the younger students and even developed into some friendships.
It was also difficult to settle into the role of a student,
something I had not done in 20 years. I
was transitioning from a medical professional that made split-second life or
death decisions to that of a student, it was a big change. I found that staying focused on my studies
and sharing my work experience with others helped me overcome this
challenge. Additionally, my previous
work experiences have continued to help others in the form of advice and opinions.
Probably the most challenging obstacle for me as a
nontraditional student has been trying to balance school with family
responsibilities. Unfortunately, my
family responsibilities have at times suffered.
Learning a brand new skill has been difficult and required me to do a
lot of studying when not in class. This
has meant on evenings and weekends not being available to help my spouse and
children. Luckily, I have a great
support system and everyone is supportive because they know this is only a
temporary inconvenience we must endure on the way to a better quality of
life. In addition, my spouse and I make
a conscious effort to communicate and plan every detail of family life
possible. This nontraditional program
has also affected my family financially.
I have had to revert to a part-time employee with limited hours
available to work. The amount of hours
required for class and studying significantly limits the number of hours I am
available to work.
One benefit of being a nontraditional student is the
maturity that comes with age and life experiences. I am aware of responsibilities and more
confident in my studies. I am able to
problem solve and face challenges with letting my emotions affect the situation. In my experience, the younger students have a
difficult time separating emotions effectively, which often times results in a