It has taken me several years beyond high school to get to the point at which I am immersed in completing a university degree. During the interim I have faced many obstacles and achieved quite a few non-academic goals, and the change now from being simply an active member of the United States army and mother to being a student has been a significant transition for me. This has been a transition that has caused some major upheavals, but has also been encouraging as it has shown me areas of my character that I had not yet known.
However, it has been one of my desires to complete a university education, and this aim has necessitated adjustment to my usual life routine and the dynamics of my family life. Home, family and work have now in very major ways become subordinate to my current undergraduate career. However, while this transition has posed very significant challenges in my life, it has also been the author of many of my proud moments and promises to fulfill me in several ways that were not previously possible.
High School and Misdirection
During the final years of my high school career, I was filled with a lack of direction. While others were considering college or doing internships that would prepare them immediately for the job world, I was experiencing what I now find to be called “burn out.” I was not particularly happy about taking classes; in fact, at that time as was rather tired of being in school, and doing further academic studies was the last thing I wanted. Therefore, I graduated from high school and spent a few months at home with my parents before getting a job at a department store. I learned the business rather quickly, as it was not very challenging.
It was not long after that, however, that I began to feel restless. This restlessness I now come to realize has to do with the adult development stage of career development. Therefore, the restlessness was not only as a result of my job—which presented no possibility of fulfilling my need for personal advancement (Lieb, 1991).
It also represented a more general form of dissatisfaction with a life that was seemingly headed nowhere in particular. In spite of this feeling, I found myself continuing on the same job path because a change in my marital status soon made the job a necessity. In order to aid in the support of my family, it became routine to perform the job at which I had become relatively good. However, I did harbor a secret desire for self-actualization, which compelled me to improve myself and make a greater contribution to my local, regional and global community (Pfaffenberger, 2005).
The Army and Re-direction
It was at this point that I decided to join the army, and I spent several years in training and working with the different departments. I enjoyed my time in the army and felt that I had not only given my life some meaning and direction, but that I had also achieved a level of discipline that would be beneficial to me in future years (Pfaffenberger, 2005). My time in the army also demonstrated to me the abilities that I have to learn and to manipulate information.
This learning awakened in me a desire to learn even more than I had been, as it was allowing me to accumulate life-experiences that would later be a source of sustenance in difficult times. Even though I might not have enjoyed the work of high school, I did enjoy reading and learning new information. This desire to learn sparked my interest in university. I began looking into ways that I could further my education after being discharged from the army. Once my discharge came (and after giving birth to a son), I enrolled in a college and began my tertiary education.
First Attempt at College
While in college, I found that I enjoyed learning a lot more than I did during high school. It appeared that the dedication and discipline I had learned, along with the maturity I had gained since that time, were working together to facilitate my success in the new academic environment. I had apparently entered the adult developmental stage involving autonomy and self-direction, which prompted me to orient myself toward my goals and work diligently to achieve them (Lieb, 1991; Pfaffenberger, 2005).
However, this was soon to be interrupted, as America was facing crisis overseas because of the war against terrorism, and troops were needed all around the world to keep the military on its feet. It was during the time that I was a college student for the first time that my services were required by my country. It became necessary for me to leave my college and take up residence in Honduras. This became a way that I could exercise my practicality as an adult in making practical use of my knowledge for the aid of my country and fellow citizens (1991; 2005).
My time in Honduras was spent doing logistical army work, but I also spent a major part of my time visiting children at the orphanages. I found an outlet for another of my adult developmental needs: that of improving the social welfare of my fellow humans (Lieb, 1991; Pfaffenberger, 2005). It became a very important part of my weekly routine to make the trip to the orphanages and keep myself up to date with the status of the children there. Throughout that period I got to know the hardships that orphans go through and made quite a few inferences about the different developmental stages that children seemed to go through. It took me a while to be able to communicate well with them, but not very long to realize that I enjoyed working with children.
I remained in Honduras for only six months, and after leaving I gave birth to a daughter. This kept me from continuing my studies immediately, though other circumstances also contributed to this. I was again deployed by the army to Augusta, Georgia. In Augusta, I was employed in a variety of jobs, yet still my mind kept returning to the time I had spent in those orphanages in Honduras and the ways that I could be of service to the orphans. With my daughter to take care of, I had another frame of reference concerning the development of children. I realized again that I wanted to be a part of this in order to help such development proceed naturally and healthily in the lives of many children. This again reminded me of my unfinished degree, which I knew would grant me the kind of credibility in the world that would favor my entrance into the lives of children.
At this point I was again re-stationed by the army, this time in Atlanta Georgia. While this was within the same state, it still warranted a move, and this brought it home to me that my life might be filled with great instability with regard to my permanent location. It made me realize that if I ever wanted to finish my university degree while having a decent number of years to spend in the job world, I would have to find a university that transcends location. This led me to consider taking university classes from an online university that offered a degree. After doing a significant amount of research, I decided on Ashford University. This decision to pursue a degree online was confirmed as a wise one when it became known to me that my next assignment will be in Arizona in June of 2008.
Enrolling in my current program at Ashford University has come at a cost. It has made it necessary for me to divide my time that was usually dedicated to my three-year-old son and 15-week-old daughter. It has also taken time away from my husband and doing general family-oriented activities. This transition to university has also made it necessary for me to restructure some of the projects related to my work. However, the online aspect of it will blend very well with my life that involves being stationed at new locations and therefore moving from place to place. It also fulfils my self-actualization goals, which I now see represents a normal desire in young and middle-aged adults (Lieb, 1991; Pfaffenberger, 2005). I have enjoyed the college classes I now take online, as they have motivated me not only by stimulating my interest and concern for the topics, but also in setting and appropriate level of difficulty in order to challenge me. I am fulfilled whenever I am able to meet and academic challenge and overcome it (1991; 2005).
Lieb, S. (1991). “Principles of adult learning.” Faculty Development Guidebook. Honolulu Community College. [Online]. Available http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/adults- 2.htm
Pfaffenberger, A. H. (2005). “Optimal adult development: an inquiry into the dynamics of growth.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 45(3): 279-301.