I did it! I graduated! With Honors, even. I earned my Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Operations and Space Commercialization with a Minor in Mechanical Engineering. (It was supposed to be a simple degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering. The classes required were the exact same, but I ran into some University politics my last semester, and in the interest of time and limited finances, I modified my degree name so I could graduate before my education debt became impossible to manage. HAH! Who am I kidding? It’s already impossible to manage.)
And now I’m done; degree in pocket and ready to hang on my wall announcing that I am an educated woman with potential. A woman with drive, ambition and… well, honestly, a modest modicum of “sass.” I’ve beaten a foe, I never expected to best. When I returned to school, part of it was to prove to myself it could be done, part with the hope that I could inspire my daughter to reach higher than I, and part because I was unemployed for 9 months, the economy sucked and I couldn’t find a job with all my experience and “incompatible” education. Sure, my degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and years of CADD on various levels of projects meant something, but not enough to garner me a job. School was the only way I could see to provide for my daughter and build a future I’d be proud of.
Before I returned to school, I was already a hard worker. I’d proven my ability to work with less than nothing and pull off miracles. I’d proven myself capable of learning quickly and effectively to the point where I often became the “tutor in the trenches” within weeks if not sooner. So going back to school to pursue an Engineering degree was not exactly a challenge in the scientific sense of the word. I’m one of those people who thrive on science, math and theory. It excites and frustrates me and I always want…NEED more. I thrive on the mystery. But this time, I can’t make mistakes. I cannot falter. There’s a little girl whose future hangs in the balance.
So I pushed. Three years, NON-STOP with a full class load every semester; summers, too. I needed to complete the degree faster than others and the perfectionist in me demanded I do it with the best possible grades. I immersed myself in the world of aerospace in a way, I’ve always wanted to do, but never was able to. I jumped at the chance to do sustainable projects and expand my knowledge base beyond the rocket and cockpit, into human factors, sustainable engineering and even media production.
On a negative budget supported by sacrificing my own mental outlets, I put my daughter through the very best preschool and kindergarten in my realm. Every evening, I focused on keeping her happy, engaged and knowing she had a loving parent who was always available for a hug and cuddle. Every night, after I fought the battle of bedtime, I focused on homework until 2 am, knowing my alarm would sound at 5:30 am beginning my day anew. There really was no other option if I wanted to earn my degree quickly. Sacrifice became my shield.
And now I’m graduated. What’s next for me? Well obviously, work. It’s time to rejoin the “9-5 warriors” at the water cooler and slay the dragons of paperwork and red tape. Luckily, I was able to find a good job quickly. And yes, I know exactly how lucky I am to have found this job. Is it my dream job? Well, no. I still need more education to earn my dream job of leading an aerospace team on an extraterrestrial mission.
So there’s the answer to the question “What’s next for me?” I’m not done yet. Just a little rest time as I recover from my headlong plunge into my dreams. I’ve already applied to several graduate degree programs at several schools across the country in aerospace and engineering. Which one I select depends more on finances at this point, but I will be back in school before 2014 comes to a close.
I still have dreams to pursue and I’m finally making headway. Besides, I kinda like when my daughter tells everyone her mother “saves the world” everyday.