The Road To Graduation Taught Me A Lot

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The Road To Graduation Taught Me A Lot

Shaina Blakesley, Managing Editor

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Ever hear “you are not good enough” so many times that you start to believe it? Well, I have heard it, more than believed it and even carved it into my wrists once, but this girl who was not “good enough” finally gets her day down the aisle — the graduation aisle, that is.

Instead, all the friends-turned-family will now shout, “Congratulations! You are graduating. I am SO proud of you.” Because on May 18, I will be sporting a one size fits all black gown, walking across a stage and receiving an empty folder.

I always have the same reaction, “Eh, it is just Central Connecticut, not that big of a deal.” In my mind, I feel as though, after six years of school, I should have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, or interning in communications and media. After all this time, I have three associate’s degrees that are basically the same and a few mangy certificates.

I entered Central after transferring from a community college in San Diego, where I was originally slated to getting a photography major. That lasted about two semesters until I was ruefully forced to change it.

Money was my issue for not beelining to a prestigious university. Therefore, I forged my own path to getting a degree, which I am also the only one in my immediate family to achieve.

I had to work almost 40 hours to pay for books and the cost of living when I was struggling through community college. I didn’t live with my parents throughout any of my collegiate career. My dad was here in Connecticut when I was in California and my mom perpetually tries to get her life together.

I had to make it on my own. I thought several times about just dropping out of school and working as much as I humanly could. I never did because college was where I felt I needed to be. I used to think I did not have many talents, but I knew I excelled at school. In a perverse way, I really liked school and learning.

The self-pity hit me hardest when I was forced to take everything I could pack and carry and trudge to the local homeless shelter, two semesters before completing community college. I felt so sorry for myself. I remember always thinking, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I hate my life so much.”

I can’t tell you the exact moment that my thinking changed. After 47 woeful days of sleeping on a cot and very dark days, I found the strength to get back on my feet. Maybe it was that phone call from my dad saying how proud of me he was, not knowing my current situation. Maybe it was seeing all the 50 other women in my room, who have given up on all hope and I was determined to not end up in their situation again.

So I stayed in school and tried to tell myself every day that this struggle will be worth it in the end. Before I moved to my home state, I was misled into living with heroin addicts that stole thousands of dollars of my belongings and pawned it feed their addiction.

Nothing was short of the uncertainty I felt moving away from the place I had lived since I was eight years old, but three years ago, I made the leap to come here. I am not going to sugarcoat the truth that coming to Central was a walk in the park, but it is a feat that I am proud to have made it out alive. The idea of not knowing what I want to do now after college terrifies the well-secured anxiety I harbor inside and, although,I am uncertain about what my next step would be, I now know that I have the fortitude to prevail. 

Now it is the end of my time at Central. I learned a lot more than just math and English. I learned about myself. I learned about others and I am proud of all of my accomplishments.

I am walking away from CCSU with more than just my degrees; I am leaving with the confidence to succeed and the strength to pick myself up if I fall.

You learn a lot in college. You grow into the person you are meant to be more than you do in high school. And being a Blue Devil was the catalyst of my epiphany. It helped me finally find my perfect path, and although I am anxious about my future, I feel safe traveling the unexpected twists and turns.