So I am finally graduating with my undergraduate degree in April. It has been a long and difficult journey and I wanted to share everything that I have been through to get to my undergraduate degree.
I graduated high school when I was 16 years old, in 2011. I graduated high school a year early specifically so I could get out of the house and onto college life. I turned 17 over the summer and began my undergraduate studies in the fall of 2011 at Bob Jones University. When I started at Bob Jones University, my major was Music Education. Now this major was known to be a difficult major to start off with because it was essentially two majors combined, music and education. I carried a heavy course load both my first and second semester at Bob Jones. My second semester of my freshman year was when I first started struggling. My mental illness decided to show its head and I began experiencing severe depression and anxiety along with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I barely made it through the semester. I missed a lot of classes simply because I was too depressed to get out of bed and most of my morning classes that I did go to I slept through because my body was just so exhausted because of the depression. I survived the semester and went home for the summer. That summer, I had elected to take two courses online to lighten the load for my sophomore year. I didn't realize what a mistake this was until I got into the classes. These classes required a lot of time to study and read and with me doing a lot of working and having to hold up my responsibilities at home that my parents expected of me (which included upkeep of the entire house, cooking meals and laundry), it was not manageable. I barely passed the two classes with D-'s which I had never gotten before in my life.
The following fall I went back for my sophomore year of school at Bob Jones. This year was just a tumultuous year for me, mainly mentally and emotionally as my mental illness continued to be a problem that took over a lot of my life. The Christmas break between the two semesters my life fell apart when I got kicked out of home and lost all my financial support. I went back and school was horrible because of what my parents had done (To see full story: ) My mental illness spun out of control and it led to my first suicide attempt. This suicide attempt led to me being kicked out of Bob Jones University and being sent to Indiana to live with a family that I had become close with since attending Bob Jones.
Once in Indiana, I began to look at attending school somewhere else. I found some online schools that I was interested in and Grand Canyon University was the one that peaked my interest and contacted me quickly. I filled out the application and was accepted for the Early Childhood Education program online, which worked well considering I wanted to work in childcare at that moment. So in May of 2013 I began classes at GCU. I thrived with my online classes. I had straight A's for over a year of classes. During this time, I also moved back to Greenville and began to live on my own and support myself 100%. I worked 3 jobs for 14 months plus going to school full time and still managed to maintain straight A's.
My mental illness did not walk away though. It reared it's ugly head again towards the end of 2014. My grades started slipping because my depression was causing me to have less motivation to do schoolwork so I would calculate how many assignments I could miss to still get a passing grade. End of 2014 also started a string of hospitalizations for me in 2015 due to my severe mental illness. I had multiple suicide attempts and I was hospitalized 12 separate times in 2015. During this time, I still managed to pass a couple classes but with 2 C's and a B. Then the end of 2015 came and my depression continued on, unmanaged. I ended up in the hospital again in 2016, twice. The combination of all these hospitalizations led me to fail 4 courses completely. I took one class at the middle/end of 2016 that I passed with a C+ but then had to take a break due to financial aid. The end of 2016 changed my life completely as my mom died, a friend died by suicide, I lost my therapist who I had been relying on to live, and many other things.
2017 came around and I attempted to take a class at the beginning. Then my dog of 13 years died and everything came apart at the seams. I ended up in the hospital while enrolled in that class and received my fifth F. I spent 6 months of 2017 in the hospital, trying to find some way to overcome my mental illness. Eventually, we found a residential treatment center that I was accepted to. This place changed my life and I walked out with a new outlook on life. I got out at the end of September of 2017. Once I got out, I had to get back to normal life again. I had been out of school for pretty much the entire year and couldn't start again until I paid the balance left on my school account so I had to wait to get my tax return in order to pay that balance.
2018 came around and I finally got the money to pay off the balance to the school and was able to re-enroll in classes. I gained my financial aid back and began taking classes again. Once I took a few courses and got A's in them, it brought my GPA up enough for me to be able to double up and take 2 classes at a time instead of just 1 which led to me being able to graduate earlier. I worked hard and maintained mostly A's for all my classes with a couple B+'s in there. I finally finished all my coursework in June of 2019 and was scheduled for student teaching in August and to graduate in December of 2019.
August came around and I started my first day of student teaching. I hadn't met this teacher prior to starting so I wasn't sure what to expect. Things did not go well. By the end of my second day, I was informed that the teacher had terminated my student teaching and told the school a series of lies about me including things like I had a negative attitude and that I lacked dedication. This led to me being failed for student teaching and me having to do an 8 week corrective action plan for something I hadn't even had the chance to try. This pushed back my graduation date from December of 2019 to sometime in the Spring of 2020. I successfully completed the 8 week corrective action plan (which was the most pointless and stupidest thing I've done in my entire life) and all the verification they wanted and was able to successfully schedule the first half of my student teaching at the place I work at. This was a long arduous process but I was able to student teach and successfully complete my first half of my student teaching with one of the teachers that I worked with at my place of employment.
Now all I have left between me and graduation is 8 weeks of student teaching left in an elementary school with an amazing teacher.
This process to finishing my degree has been a long one and a challenging one with multiple starts and stops and bumps in the road. But it all happens for a reason and I am confident in that.
One good thing that has come out of all of this is that I will actually be graduating with my brother from the same school on the same day. We have different graduation ceremonies but we will both be graduating from GCU with our Bachelor's degree on May 1st, 2020. I'm looking forward to graduation and getting to see him again for the first time in 4 years.
My next steps after graduating include going on and working towards a Master's Degree in Social Work. I have 2 schools picked out that I'm hoping to get accepted to in order to pursue my degree online. I'm looking forward to my graduate level work that I will be doing and what will come from having my Master's Degree. I'm excited to see what life has in store for me with that!