I was forced out of the US Air Force in the spring of 2011. I moved my growing family of four, with one on the way, back home, to be near my supportive parents. It was expensive to live here, but it was good to have the support of friends and family nearby. The plan was to attend school with my GI Bill benefits. I contacted the nearest community college, Cascadia. I had about a week to get signed up for spring classes. I jumped at the opportunity. It was a whirlwind of excitement and paperwork. I registered for classes just in time to start that quarter.

I went to school full time, on a mission to transfer to UW College of Engineering specializing in Electrical Engineering. I took classes to support this goal, but it was slow going. Each new quarter would approach and I would only qualify for one, maybe two classes that would fulfill to my transfer degree requirements. I didn’t feel like I was ever going to get there. I expended a significant amount of my GI Bill benefits crawling through courses at a snail’s pace; a measly transfer degree on the horizon.

Would I ever get there?

An opportunity to work for Boeing hit me. It was refreshing and exciting compared to the pace I was struggling to get classes knocked out. I dropped out of school, abruptly to work at Boeing.

Now, five and a half years later, I’m back at school. I’m a little older a little wiser but I struggle to keep up. I started where I left off; calculus I. A pinch of the knowledge I once had still rattles around in my brain. My heart and mind are uncommonly at ease when I recognize something… or when I’m just able to keep up.

When I registered, I was lost but it seemed all to inconvenient to see an academic advisor, they were booked beyond the start of the quarter. I searched for answers on the Bellevue College website. Structuring my studies after the engineering transfer degree, I signed up for calculus I, obviously, as well as physics. Somewhere in the middle of the quarter, an eye to the future, I noticed that the physics class I signed up for, was not the one I needed. Engineering physics, physics with calculus is what I needed. It was waitlisted when I decided to do “normal” physics and it was in waitlist before I was even appointed to register for it in spring.

This has been so disheartening to me. I lose confidence weekly it seems; struggling in math, dominating a physics class that is of little value to me. All the while, I realize that if the physics class I need is in waitlist… so many other people want to be engineers, too.

How am I supposed to compete with younger, smarter students? If I’m struggling with calculus I, how am I supposed to feel about calculus III; alongside students 10 years younger than me?!

Somehow, I hold on to hope. It flows through my veins and lives in my spirit.

I have a different ethic.

I have endured and enjoyed different experiences.

We are all unique and each have something special to offer this cruel world.

Press on, endure to the end with hope and joy.



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