University of Phoenix Women’s Day Article

Uhg, another rainy day. Feels like it’s been over a week since the sun has been out. Living in a travel trailer with this much rain is a bit of a challenge. We are dry and warm but mud is hard to keep outside. Even with the use of our mud room.

Life is always full of challenges isn’t it? And it seems each stage of life morphs into different ones, even if they sometimes seem to be the same ones.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is it is about handling these challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to learn something, to gain knowledge, empathy, wisdom, and most important to do it all gracefully….well, if you are like me and often lack gracefulness, lean on God’s grace. His strength and grace are unwavering.

This past week I received a very nice email from the University of Phoenix (UOP).  They published this article in their internal system but were nice enough to share screenshots.

It got me pondering, remembering, the challenges of my education. The pressure I faced from family to get a degree that morphed into my own personal desire, only after serving as Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader for two deployments, to finish my degree.

Growing up, college was forced on us. I really, really, really, wanted to be both a naturalist (work in the woods researching bugs and plant life) or a forensic pathologist (Patricia Cornwell books inspired me).

I had no people skills. I was the odd ball who was bullied ever since fifth grade. The horror stories I could share with you about what the “mean girls” did to me…. remembering is just as painful as living through it, so I keep trying to forget.

Unfortunately, I sucked at math. Well…really, I had two horrible teachers. And I can say that now because I now know the math and know what it should have been like to learn and teach it to someone like me. I remember all my questions because I wanted to learn and I remember vividly the ridicule from both teachers. Well, inappropriate sexual comments by one and ridicule from the other. Any way….sidetracking.

My parents saw my lack and highly encouraged….or forced me to go to school for elementary education. I remember my mom saying I should be a teacher, have a pension, and find a husband. LOL well, I tried. I really did try being what they wanted me to be but I couldn’t handle the stress and loneliness so in a course of very bad choices ended up running away to Alaska.

I’ll skip a lot of that time to keep this blog post focused on education. So it looked like this; AK: started in elementary education, lost almost all credits with a change in major to biology…..met my husband, moved, married, lost all my credits from un transferability between AK and GA and then TN.

Being attached to the 101st Airborne Division was amazing, I miss the commrodery. It also meant multiple 12-15 month deployments at the same time we started raising a family.

But this is when three things happened.

One, I found out how much I loved people, they weren’t all the nasty preppy “mean” girls I grew up with. In fact the nasty people are a very insignificant number, they just happen to be very loud.

Two, my husband had been a stable, calm, encourager from the moment we met. His calm encouragement coupled with my developing faith in Jesus was starting to take root and I was morphing, at the age of 22, from a bullied child into an adventurous adult.

Three, I found the UOP and the flexibility to take classes at 10pm when my babies were sleeping and I was avoiding the empty lonely night time quite of deployments.

I’m very thankful for online education.  I HATE my school loans and am therefore hesitant to force any of my children to go into debt like I did but, I am thankful that I was able to gain both my Bachelors and Masters online.

There was no way I could have accomplished either while being married to an Army soldier, going through multiple deployments, raising children, and serving my community.

The teachers I had in both degree programs were actually passionate about their jobs and they had first-hand knowledge to share. I am so thankful with how much I’ve learned over the years and that my joy of learning has continually increased.

I know my story isn’t the only one. Hopefully most of you avoided my “downs” and enjoyed more “ups”. But for those moms and dads who have dreams and feel scared, don’t. Be brave, be bold. There are so many ways to accomplish God’s purpose for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Online learning was one tool for me. What might be yours?

I would love to hear your ideas, dreams and stories of success.

Love, Mariel

Anthony, Mariel2

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