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Never Stop Learning

It’s hard to believe the next academic school year is beginning. Some students are headed to the military or entering the work force now instead of the schoolhouse to learn new things; brand new students are starting school for the first time and others are returning to the next level in elementary, middle and high school. Still others are heading off to college for the first time or returning for their next level in higher education. To a degree we are all facing the opportunity to learn something more or to learn something new. As I think about this time of year, I remember completing my freshman year of college in 1988 and, contrary to the advice of some loved ones, I dropped out and got married at the age of 19. When I finally went back to college in January of 2001, I was a non-traditional student with a family, a full-time job, and other responsibilities. It was a very difficult time for me to manage so many things. I still remember how God opened the door for me to go back to college. I was the first office manager for the Liberty County Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). One day I noticed the vacancy announcements on the bulletin board and realized the only way I could be promoted was if I obtained a college degree. My boss asked if I wanted one of those positions one day, and I told him “I’d have to go back to school.” He said, “Well, go back to school then.” I began to think of the possibility, and then he told me that if I had stayed in school and completed one or two classes per semester during those twelve years, I would have finished my degree already. I hadn’t really considered that before and his words stuck with me. He later presented me with an opportunity to return to college with a grant under a child welfare partnership between Savannah State University and DFCS. Under the program I was required to put in years of service or pay back the grant, and it was well worth it. I was so motivated that I also applied for and won a few scholarships. I earned the Bachelor of Social Work degree from Savannah State University in 2006 with honors (magna cum laude), and a Master’s of Social Work in 2007. It's been years since I was in college, but learning never stops. Don’t give up on your dreams to further your education. I admit it was very hard work, and I encourage my son to stay focused on his education while he’s still young and has no family responsibilities. I am so grateful and proud that he is doing very well. Since I dropped out but finally went back, I want to help rekindle a thought in the mind of someone who gave up on the desire to go back to school. You may only be able to take one class per semester. Give it a try and do the best you can. Apply for grants and scholarships. Find out about any educational programs that are offered through your employment or organizations that you belong to. You can do it. If you’re a non-traditional student, it may take you a little longer to graduate. That’s ok. Keep the finish line in view and it will help you navigate the obstacles you encounter along the way. You CAN start or go back to school if you desire to do so. Set goals and put God first. Never stop. You will make it to the finish line. I’m praying for you.

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