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Journey leads mom back to college to get long-wanted degree

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By Renee Sloan, Page Designer/Staff Writer

It was the day before graduation. The campus at UNC-Chapel Hill was a sea of white dresses, suits, ties and Carolina blue.

I had been attending a North Carolina Press Association workshop and was walking to my car. Everywhere I looked there were excitement as young men and women tried on their gowns and talked to their families.

The walk to my car was a long one as I thought about how I missed out on that experience.

That day, I decided to go back to school—one more time.

My college career started at UNC-Asheville in 1998—it’s hard to believe it was 10 years ago. After one semester I decided to leave Asheville—it was just too cold and rainy. I was as depressed much of that semester.

Looking back, I don’t think it had as much to do with the weather as it did missing my family and my home.

In fall of 1999, I started at UNC-Charlotte. I commuted back and forth from Statesville while working and going to school. I continued as a part-time student until I moved to Oak Island in 2001.

After taking the real estate licensure class at Brunswick Community College, I enrolled full-time, taking classes at night. After a few semesters, I decided to try UNC-Wilmington, where I took classes to complete the fall semester in 2006.

It has been 10 years since I started college, and it took 10 years to realize how much a college degree means.

A few months ago, I started looking at schools and programs. North Carolina has so many colleges with an array of programs. However, I needed a perfect fit. I needed something that would allow me to fulfill my work and family obligations while attending school.

After much searching, I decided on a school and program.

The application process was a little tougher than before—I had several transcripts to request.

Last week I received my letter. It said “Congratulations! Welcome to East Carolina University.”

East Carolina offers flexible options for adult students, including distance education programs. This option was the perfect fit for me because it allows me to keep working while taking classes. I will be working on a bachelor’s of science in communications.

Another selling point was East Carolina’s football team. I have never attended a college with a football team, and I felt like I missed out on some of the camaraderie.

I have always wanted to go cheer on my team amid the pom-pom wielding alums and painted, half-naked ultimate fans.

As the mother of a 1-year old, I’m not going to be painting myself or streaking at half-time, but it would be nice to attend a game every now and then. Maybe I’ll even do the wave or chant the fight song.

The most exciting part of this whole process is the possibility of joining the other students as we walk across the stage. I have made a promise to myself I will graduate someday. Now, I am one step closer to achieving that goal.

In the meantime, I have lots of planning and hard work to look forward to. I know it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

I also have something else to look forward to—football games! This weekend the Pirates play an away game at Southern Mississippi.

Go Pirates!