Does my story sound familiar?

Lucy Ray is a student in the College of Education at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. She is a member Alpha Beta Omega/University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

Lucy Ray croppedI am a female student attending college. My college career is about to come to an end, as I finish up my degree in English with teacher licensure. I value the importance of education and have maintained a high GPA throughout my semesters in college. I am a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Sigma Tau Delta Honor Societies, which is a great privilege to me. All of this may sound familiar, except for the fact that I am not a traditional college student. In fact, I did not make the decision to go to college until the youngest of my five children was in grade school. The other four children were college graduates themselves and married with children of their own.

I had always been a stay-at-home mother, a job that I highly value and wouldn’t trade for anything. I started my family at a very young age, not finishing high school until I received my GED when I was pregnant with my fourth child. It was important to me to finish what I started. I always enjoyed going to school, but being a busy mother kept me from getting my GED earlier. It would be several years later that I would make the decision to attend college. I watched with pride as I attended my older children’s college graduations, and when I told my children that I was interested in going to college, they were thrilled and completely supportive of my decision, as they have been throughout this wonderful journey of completing my degree.

It has not always been easy. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed with the work load and being a wife, mother and grandmother. I wasn’t sure if I could get it all accomplished and at times, I felt I was being pulled in all different directions. But I do not regret one minute of any of it. With a strong faith, encouragement from my family, and persistence, I somehow managed to make it to the end of each semester with a 3.5 grade point average. I also had wonderful faculty and staff at UAFS who were very compassionate and caring and helped guide me.

I am now in the final semester of classes and next semester I will intern (formally known as “student teaching”) and graduate in the fall of 2014. The youngest of my five children will be graduating from high school in May of the same year. I will be 54 years old in a couple of months, and while I consider being a mother and grandmother my greatest accomplishment, earning a college degree is definitely my second greatest accomplishment.

I want my story to encourage anyone who wants to go to college but thinks they just don’t have the time or the finances to go for it! I received financial aid and eventually earned scholarships because of my GPA that enabled me to pursue my dream. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way. You will never go wrong pursuing an education, and you will reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

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