By Sherry Hardaway | April 24, 2017
Ms. Elizabeth Johnson was a wonderful fourth grade teacher. She was extremely patient to all of the children in the class. More importantly, she made all of her students believe that they mattered, and she repeatedly told us that our dreams could come true. She had an infectious laugh that I still remember, and being in her class inspired me to want to earn a college degree and possibly to even be a teacher. I wanted to emulate the same compassion, the positive outlook, and the zest for life that she had demonstrated.
After high school, I started college but then, LIFE HAPPENED! I had a baby. I tried to hang on and stay in school, but I had difficulty focusing in the classroom. I felt guilty leaving my son, so I stopped attending and my dream was deferred. As my son got older, I felt like I might be ready to try to fit classes into my life. By then, he was in high school and working full time, so I started classes again. However, just as I was getting back in the groove and feeling like I could juggle all of the pieces, I accepted a new job. I really did like that job. It paid more money which we needed, I worked with great people, I kept busy, and each day was different. The down side was that the job was demanding with long hours and an inconsistent travel schedule. You guessed it. I dropped out of college again.
Seeking a better life for my family, in April of 200I, I accepted a different job at another finance company. Life went on until the summer of 2007. Then the financial crisis hit the mortgage industry, my company closed, and I lost my job. I had to file for unemployment for the first time in my life. The feeling was devastating. I had to face the fact that after 20+ years in the industry, I would have to make a change and reinvent myself.
To continue receiving unemployment benefits, I had to attend mandatory meetings and workshops with the State of Indiana. At one of those meetings, a counselor told me that I could get a work waiver which meant I could return to college and keep my unemployment benefits. I quickly enrolled at Ivy Tech. This time, I was serious about my studies. I was on a roll, and I stayed on the Dean’s List every semester until I earned an Associate’s Degree in Business.
Close to finishing my degree, I began speaking with a friend about my next step. I wanted to go on to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and she recommended Marian’s Adult Programs
(MAP). She said the classes were accelerated and the instructors understood working adults. I made a phone call and met with an admissions advisor. She was patient and she made me feel comfortable. When I left that meeting, I was convinced that MAP was the right place for me. The semester following my Ivy Tech graduation, I was enrolled in MAP classes.
Honestly, MAP was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was forced to think outside of the box, learn a new set of skills, and speak with confidence in front of people. I loved the accelerated classes as I was able to finish up my degree quickly. I persevered in spite of the obstacles. In fact, my son and I both graduated from college in 2013. The degree definitely bolstered my resume and made me more marketable. While I’m not a teacher today, my dream did come true. I have my bachelor’s degree. My family and friends are proud of me. I think Ms. Elizabeth Johnson would be proud as well.