From point A to point D...egree

People who know me well know that I have struggled for years to finally get my bachelor's degree. For the most part, I have always been a mostly-As-and-a-few-Bs student. But it still took eight long years to finally get this darn thing.

Why do I mention it? I may have graduated this past December, but I didn't get my degree in the mail until today. It is in my hot little hands. Finally.

For anyone who cares, here's my story:

- 2000 - I was 17 and started college as a pre-med major.
- 2001 - I decided that as much as I loved neuroscience, I didn't want to spend my life begging for grants. I became a film major, to pursue another one of my passions.
- 2002 - Catty peers and an adviser who once told me, "I'm sorry, I have no resources for you, good luck with that," led me to abandon all hope for the quality of education in the media and theater arts department. I switched to marketing.
- 2003 - The marketing department revealed their new logo. It was a cube. They said, "The four sides of the cube represent the four years it takes to get a degree." I went to their main office and said, very politely, "excuse me, a cube doesn't have four sides." They shunned me. I switched to English.
- Late 2003 - I was working upwards of 4 simultaneous part time jobs to afford school. An emotionally abusive ex was harassing me. I was tired of being treated like an anomaly for my race and liberal political views and I resented Montana for not being San Francisco.
- 2004 - I left Montana and moved in with my current boyfriend in Boulder, CO. I got a full time job, $10/hour. It's hard to find work without a degree, but luckily I had a ton of extracurriculars under my belt.
- 2004 - I took two classes at a community college while researching other Colorado colleges.
- 2005 - I continued to take online classes here and there from community college. I discovered that very few of my Montana classes transferred to Colorado schools. Back to square one.
- 2006 - I decided to take my full time job to part time and go back to school full time, finally settling on a major in Public Relations. I managed this for two semesters (and received scholarships for my straight As) before money became too tight to continue. I tried getting a second part time job for awhile, but inevitably I went back to work full time out of necessity.
- Late 2006 - My best friend noticed that my old college had developed an online Public Relations degree. I finished the semester at the Colorado college and registered for online Montana classes. I got all of the credits I had lost back.
- 2007 - I enrolled halftime at Montana State University and took classes in the Spring. I lost my job (rather, the job went out of business) and I moved to California with my boyfriend so he could attend law school (and because I love California).
- 2008 - With a steady, well-paying job at UCLA in hand, I went to school halftime for the spring semester. Forty hours of work per week, plus a daily two hour commute, plus six credits of senior level classes. My end goal was in sight, so I increased my course load to full time, 12 credits for the summer semester. For the fall semester, I took 17 credits. Sleep didn't happen much.
- Fall 2008 - I was done. Finally, finally done.
- May 2009 - Bachelor of Science degree in hand. B.S. in Public Relations. A B.S. in B.S.. Awesome.

I'm proud of the fact that I got my current job without a degree. I'm even more proud, but also resentful, of the fact that I finally have this piece of paper. I feel so behind and yet so accomplished.

If nothing else, I can say without hesitation that I am a fighter. It's worlds away from the life I imagined for myself back when I was a ballerina in the San Francsico Ballet's production of the Nutcracker, oh so many years ago. I was going to go to NYU. I was going to be an actress. But I still worked my ass off to get to where I am now.


Alex Rosenleaf said...

You are an amazing woman, Cat! Few fighters out there as scrappy and smart as you!

♥Jozee said...

congrats! glad to hear things are so great for you out in LA.