By Raylyn Bowers
In August 2012, I packed my bags and moved to Austin. I started my college career as a student at the University of Texas. Now, a year later, I am back in the Panhandle.
I live with my grandfather in Tulia, and I drive back and forth to school and work every day. It is ironic how your entire life can change in the span of a few short months. If someone had told me when I left that I would be back home within a year, I would have called them crazy. I was leaving and never coming back. At least, that’s what I thought then.
In life, we are going to meet people who judge us, put us down and challenge our decisions. The goal when meeting those people is to pursue your dreams anyway.
There are times when we as humans need a reality check. It should not pertain to one’s choice to attend college, however. Attending Amarillo College should not be a shameful event, and no one should be looked down upon for choosing this institution as their place of higher learning.
Starting in December 2012, my life took a drastic turn. It involved multiple sleepless nights, hospital visits and eventually funerals. By March 2013, I had lost more than I thought possible. I withdrew from UT and moved back home. That life decision brought out opinions from people I did not even know. People around town would pull me aside and express their sympathy about the loss of my loved ones, and then they would dive into how disappointed they were in me for leaving UT.
I was informed that I never would make anything of myself if I left UT. I was told I was too smart to attend a community college. I also was told that my education was the most important thing and that I had just thrown away an amazing chance to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.
Discouraged does not even begin to describe what I was feeling. I never was ashamed of the fact that I decided to attend AC. In fact, I was relieved. That, however, does not mean other people agreed with my choice.
One day, my grandfather sat me down and told me never to underestimate the education you can earn from a community college. Then he took me to the hallway in his house where my grandmother and grandfather keep pictures, certificates and awards. Hanging on the wall were both of their associate degrees, and hanging right beside them were their bachelor’s, master’s and grandfather’s doctoral certificates.
Never underestimate your abilities. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you are one of those people who have to start at the bottom, then that means you will appreciate it that much more when you succeed.
In my experience, the best people start from nothing, the strongest marriages are built up from scratch and the best education comes from living. You never should feel ashamed of who you are, where you come from or the struggles you have to face in life. If you are attending AC, then you are making something of yourself.
Attending a community college does not make you a failure. You succeeded just by walking in the door, because walking in the door means you are trying.