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A not-so-flowery past has lead to a flowery future

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“Congratulations! You are graduating. I am SO proud of you.” Says everyone who knows that on May 20 I will be sporting a one-size-fits-all black gown, walking across a stage and handed an empty folder.

I always have the same reaction, “Eh, it is just Palomar, not that big of a deal.” In my mind, I feel as though after four years of school I should have a bachelor’s degree and going off to graduate school, or interning in my field of study, communications and media. After all this time, I have three associate’s degrees that are basically the same. On top of that, I have two certificates that just say I met the requirements to transfer to both a UC and Cal State schools. Whoopee, I guess?

I had to make it on my own. I moved around a lot in Escondido because I couldn’t afford to rent rooms after a while.

I thought several times about just dropping out of school and working as much as I humanly can. I never did because college was where I felt I needed to be. I used to think I didn’t have many talents, but I knew I excelled at school. In a perverse way, I really liked school and learning.

The self pity hit me hardest when I was forced to take everything I could pack and carry and trudge to the local homeless shelter. I felt so sorry for myself. I remember always thinking, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I hate my life so much.”

I can’t tell you the exact moment that my thinking changed.

After 47 woeful days of sleeping on a cot and very dark days that I will spare you the details on, I found the strength to get back on my feet. Maybe it was that phone call from my dad saying how proud of me he was, not knowing my current situation. Maybe it was seeing all the 50 other women in my room who have given up on all hope and I was determined to not end up in their situation again.

So I stayed in school and tried to tell myself everyday that this struggle will be worth it in the end.

I found a house with others that seemed cool and down to earth. I thought they had their lives together, but I was completely wrong. They ended up being heroin addicts. I left for work and when I came home, my door was kicked in with no sign of my camera equipment for photography classes. Thousands of dollars literally ripped from my sanctuary.

My theory was that it was pawned or sold to feed their addiction. I packed everything I owned that day and showed up at one of my friend’s house.

Her parents said I could stay there for as long as I needed. I shared the room with her, and I felt more comfortable there. I paid a low rent because they were helping me just stay afloat.

There is a common misconception that community colleges are severely low on the collegiate totem pole. I used to even think that, but my mindset is starting to alter because of how hard I worked, despite all of the grueling challenges.

I entered Palomar after graduating high school. Money was my issue for not beelining to a prestigious university after my high school graduation.

I have had to work almost 40 hours to pay for books and the cost of living. I didn’t live with my parents throughout college. My dad is back in my home state of Connecticut and my mom is trying to get her life together.

I decided to change my major from photography after the theft to journalism because, sadly, poets aren’t guaranteed a paycheck every month. I entered my second year as a journalism major and focused on my General Ed courses. After taking an introductory journalism class, I realized that journalism just wasn’t the same as creative writing and I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my working career.

The idea of not knowing what I wanted to do gave me serious anxiety and I was uncertain about what my next step would be. The last assignment for my journalism class was public relations. My attention was sparked and again I was excited about school, about learning, and that I knew what I wanted to do.

The Introduction to Public Relations class I took last semester was probably the best class I ever took at Palomar.

I also took the newspaper class last semester for the first time and although journalism wasn’t my forte, I still loved the adviser and the atmosphere. It helped me break out of my shell and not be as shy.

It ended up being a good lesson for my upcoming public relations career. I was able to refine my writing skills, and be a little less flowery when writing. Just a tad less though. I was able to get close to my classmates, because normally I don’t talk to people in my class and learn from them.

Now it is the end of my time at Palomar, I learned a lot more than just math and English. I learned about myself. I learned about others and I am proud of all of my accomplishments.

I am walking away from Palomar with more than just my degrees, I am leaving with the confidence to succeed and the strength to pick myself up if I fall.
You learn a lot in college. You grow into the person you are meant to be more than you do in high school. And Palomar was the catalyst of my epiphany. It helped me finally find my perfect path, and although I am anxious about my future, I feel safe traveling the unexpected twists and turns.

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A not-so-flowery past has lead to a flowery future