Friday, January 6, 2017

Diapers and Degrees: My Quest to Success

Andrea K. Davis
Future Alumni Essay Contest - 2016 Runner-up

Have you ever had to change the world’s smelliest diaper right in the middle of an exam for an online class? Well that honor has been bestowed upon me a few times during my time at TTC, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. While motherhood has its own unique challenges, attaining my degree has been a milestone I’ve been actively pursuing since relocating to Charleston. TTC has not only been a financially SMART investment, but has also given me the ability to connect with others in my community.

The quest to my success has not been one of comfort. Being a college student requires your undivided attention. When you’re taking multiple classes, it is not uncommon for deadlines to sneak up on you. Although working ahead in classes where I am able has been somewhat of a lifesaver, unfortunately that option isn’t available for all of my classes, so I have to do my best to stay on top of each assignment. The real challenge of this strategy is combining completing schoolwork with the never-ending demands of motherhood. Not only does my one year old require my exclusive attention, but I also have an eight year old son on the autistic spectrum whose favorite phrase to me as he plays his games is “hey, look at this” every five minutes. If college doesn’t work out for me, I may have a promising future in the circus because this is the ultimate juggling act.

In pursuit of my degree, I’d rather not be so broke that our family meals consist of ramen noodles, bread and water. As much as it is important for me to pursue higher learning, I also have a responsibility to make sure my household is in a good financial state. While attending TTC, I have not placed myself in financial ruin and I feel like I am receiving a quality education from knowledgeable professors. My decision to continue my education was not solely based on finances. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to invest in my community. I’ve always had a passion for writing. Unfortunately, I was not motivated to pursue this ability to its fullest potential for a long time. Trident Technical College has not only given me a platform to share my passion for writing and highlighting important issues in my community, but I’ve gained a job doing so as an editor for the Trident Times. This connection with the campus has given me ties to the community and I am now able to share events and views that our students and community find important.

While receiving a quality education at an affordable price is great, the real reward comes when you can pass on knowledge and opportunity to others. One of my goals after leaving college is to continue my work with the community and inspire others to pursue higher learning as well. For example, I am currently a volunteer at a grassroots organization in Charleston called Girls Rock Charleston, where we use music and creative arts as a vehicle for social change while building confidence and power among system involved girls. This is the only organization that serves as an alternative to incarceration in South Carolina and many are not aware of that. As a volunteer, I am appealing to young girls who may not have thought college was an option for them. They now have an example in me of what they can achieve at TTC.

While changing dirty diapers and taking exams for online classes may not seem like an ideal way to spend a day, I would not have it any other way. In pursuit of my degree and living my life as a mother, I have been taught that you don’t have to sacrifice financial freedom for education. You can make a SMART investment in yourself, your family and community. You can also help perpetuate success in the future when you choose to attend TTC. 

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