Maria did it. Ericka did it. My sister did it. Emily, Patti and Dawn did it. Sue, Amber and Casey are getting ready to do it. It’s inspiring, to say the least, to watch the women of my life pursue their career goals the old fashioned way – through education. So it’s settled. I’m going back to school too.
Crikey! What am I thinking, taking on large debt for the first time in my life by myself? That’s how I feel on the surface. But deeper down I feel calm and situated. I figured out how to get to where I’m going.
Amber says the only things in life worth going into debt for are enriching experiences, namely travel, and education. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s just that in my lifetime, I’ve only ever done the former. The latter got washed away when my financial aid package was ripped from me in what would have been my sophomore year at Emerson College. The office told us that since my sister had graduated my parents could afford full tuition with no help. Never mind that the majority of my scholarship awards had been granted to me for academic achievement. It was a messy and deeply unsatisfying excuse they gave us.
We were at an impasse. I took a little time to collect my thoughts then did what seemed best. I got an internship at the place I wanted to work and then I started working there. It never crossed my mind to go back to school at nineteen. School was expensive and it had betrayed me. Better to pursue my goals in a way that made more sense. And it worked. It took ten years, but I made it to the top of my field at the company I always intended to work for.
For an entire decade I was really lucky. It didn’t always feel that way, of course, but it’s true. I got paid well to do the job I was good at. I had fun at work. I was respected by my colleagues. I was constantly challenged and I got to use all of my natural born talents.
The layoffs in 2009 threw me for quite a loop. My personal life exploding in multiple fireballs added to the chaos. Through it all my long-term life dream has remained the same – I want to start, own and run a bed & breakfast with an organic farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant and community classes in cooking, nutrition and more. But how to get there from where I was? I started my food cart because I wanted to know if I could run a small business. Check! I can run a small business.
But still, how to get there from where I am? This goal is in an entirely new field, one I know absolutely nothing about. Travel & Tourism. It’s time to bust into truly uncharted territory.
Enter Kapi’olani Community College, part of the University of Hawaii system, and their associates degree program with a focus on Hotel/Restaurant Operations. Enter classes in conversational Japanese and introduction to Hawaiian culture. Enter classroom buildings with outdoor hallways and names like Alani, Kopiko and Olopua. Enter one thirty-something haole with an enormous grin and a brand new path staring her right in the face.
Application and financial aid package are in process. Transcripts have been sent. With a little luck I’ll start classes at the end of August!