I am Karie, I am a Phoenix

I have a few posts here lately where I referenced my HUGE and seriously I mean HUGE accomplishment of completing my college education. Some people are like “Yeah whatever, good for you” while others I can see are my cheering fans, armed will bullhorns and pom poms (yeah…you know who you are!! Muwah!).

So here is the deal. A lot of people, moms especially, who, like me, did not have the opportunity to attend a traditional four year college right out of the high school gate. I was awarded a scholarship to the University of Arizona for academics. Quite the honor actually, the scholarship was for high honors in academics and I was only one of a small handful of students to receive the award (I had to maintain a 3.50 GPA in college to keep the scholarship). I was even accepted to Columbia University as well, another high honor. But each instance yielded a problem as an 18 year old kid….MONEY! My folks did not have any and I for sure did not have any making a meager $4.35 an hour for minimum wage back in the day. Plus my part time hours really did not provide any sort of paycheck, except one that did help me pay for gas for my car and my personal necessities and meals when working.

I suffered. Not knowing any different other than I had such a high amount of envy for those who did get to go to a traditional four year college. Those who got to enjoy the “college” experience and lifestyle. I went straight into the work force, I moved out of state, away from the comforts of my family. I had to grow up and not enjoy the young lifestyle everyone else was enjoying.

Not so bad actually since I met a LOT and I mean a LOT of business contacts in my young life, plus a very strong work ethic and impressive resume for my age. When I was 20 I bought my first house and was a finance manager for a large Dodge dealership in Albuquerque. By the time I was 25 I had bought another house with DH in Mesa, sold the house in Albuquerque (which meant we were NEVER going back…WAHOO), and I was working as a loan officer in mortgage firm in north Scottsdale. I had Big G by this time so pretty impressive to continue to work with a new baby. In 2004, the same year we bought and sold our houses DH graduated from college. He had done the whole college experience at UNM and was a fraternity brother alumni (Sigma Chi). But he did the experience like a lot of other kids who had a full paid opportunity by mom and dad…..partied. In 2000 he went back to school for his IT degree, completed in 2004 after moving, taking some time off for personal reasons, etc. So in 2005 I felt my time had come. We agreed when he was done I could go back. And so I did.

I called the University of Phoenix, just like he did and applied. Not knowing your application is accepted immediately I was in! In September of 2005 I began my classes online.

Let me clarify that online is not the easiest way to go to class. I truly thought at the time, online was going to be a breeze. I even sold DH on the idea. Little did I know that THREE LONG HARD years and two kids later what an undertaking going to school, and online school would be.

I had to post to my class 4 out of 7 days a week. This is really harder than it sound when you are working or even at home with kids. Homework. At least two papers a week, one individual and one team paper. Nights, dinners, weekends were sacrificed for the good of my work team to complete a team paper before Monday and to complete my own personal paper.

I had to on some days and nights force myself to log on to class. The days and nights that I wanted to blog. I wanted to sit and read a REAL book and not some boring text book on research and statistics. I had to neglect my home that much longer so that I could log into class, work on my homework, post to discussion questions, and participate with my learning team. Online gave me the option to not log in I felt like it, to avoid class, I did not “physically” have to be present.

But I did.
I went to class almost every night to ensure I had plenty of participation. I did all of my papers. Painstakingly. Reading all my text books, Google was my friend, DH’s old text books were a savior to help in sticky situations. I did it. Three years, eight months, and four days, a twin pregnancy, a mental break down (that’s another post), and a career later I finally finished my college education. A college education I thought I would never receive. A high honor of my personal sacrifice, the sacrifice of my family, my home, my livelihood. I did it.

I was proud to say on my graduation day that, “I am a Phoenix.”

I used to be afraid to say that I went to the University of Phoenix, but now I am proud. I sport my degree like a big fat piece of bling! I had to cram as much information into five weeks as other students did into 18 weeks at a standard university. I was forced to work with people who were not always pleasant, but because of the UoP structure I had to finish assignments with them, stick it out, work through any conflicts and disagreements.

I now sit here today looking into my horizon of (student loans) my future. I have met one of my thousands and millions of goals and dreams. My next…..my Jurisdoctorate. To be awarded my doctorate degree. To add Esquire, to my name suffix. To practice law in the way I know how to practice law, with my finance experience, contracts, and to uphold the law. I know I can do it, I will do it, I will not let anything stop me or get in my way. I will not use excuses. I did not use excuses before, even though I had plenty. I did not let anything get in my way, even though I did have stuff to get in my way (twin pregnancy, work, married life, kids, myself).

Any of you that have considered going back to school but say, “I’m too old”, “I don’t have the money”, “I don’t have the time” these are excuses. I was afraid. I was terrified. But I conquered my fear in the first class and from then on smooth sailing. Sure I have lots of student loans, but who cares. Can you really put a price on an education? I know I can’t.

Go out and do it. Research what program, what school works for you. Do not let your fears or your self get in the way of what you really want. Talk to an academic advisor, I can give you the name of mine. She was fantastic! She called me with every class telling me how much closer I was to completion and rooting me on through the process.

Just know that goals and dreams can come true and don’t limit yourself to just a single dream or goal, make lots of them, small and large, and don’t let anyone tell you dreams don’t come true.

9 Replies to “I am Karie, I am a Phoenix”

  1. You are truly an inspiration. I'm so glad I found you and this blog! Online learning IS challenging and an accelerated program is not for everyone. Like anything else in life, there is a trade-off. Online learning does take sacrifices, like time spent away from your family. When I was in graduate school, I was working full-time and commuting to NYC three times a week. I sacrificed a lot as well but I wouldn't change it for the world. You completed this degree with such heart and conviction. This is YOUR TIME! I know you'll go back and get your JD because you have the drive…No matter what happens to you in your life, NOBODY CAN EVER TAKE AWAY YOUR EDUCATION. You made an investment in yourself that will last a lifetime. Much continued success to you my friend!

  2. I am glad I got my masters before kids. I barely can get time to take mandatory professional development classes. Congratulations!!!! I know how tough it is with small kids to get anything done. Enjoy some free time now!!

  3. I am proud of you 🙂 even if I haven't known you long! my problem with going to uni is that the course I wish doesn't exist in Malta and so I can't do it 🙁 but I got other dreams that I'd like to conquer and I know I will one day maybe sooner or maybe later!

  4. Congratulations! As someone who did their bachelor's degree the "traditional" way (even getting my MRS after graduation, and my Master's degree using both night classes and some online learning while working full time and having a baby in the middle, I can assure you that the Master's degree is something I am way more proud of!

    So I send you hugs, a pitcher of your favorite beverage and a big plate of appies to celebrate.

  5. so nice to read this as i slog through the paperwork needed to start back to school in september!!! i see myself coming back to this pep talk of a post a lot in the coming months! congratulations, again!
    ps – how cute are you in your cap and gown!

  6. Coming by from SITS and I think Ive been here from the follow me club? Congrats to the grat!

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