Monday, May 16, 2016

Hello Life!




I don't remember much about the day that I decided to go back to school at age 54, except the loneliness I was feeling. The house was empty at the time. All the kids were grown, and it just felt like I had no purpose. The marriage was on the rocks, we hardly talked to one another back then. I was on the phone with my mom, and she suggested I go back to college.

At first I thought, what a crazy thing to suggest, it had been so long since I had entered a classroom. What the hell would I do? What would I pursue? With my knees, how could I possibly get around? She must have used that mother's intuition that we are known to have inhabiting our being, because she said, "stop thinking of all the negatives and just think about it before you decide no".

Well, I figured since I never really listened to my mother when I was coming up, well maybe sometimes, that it might be okay to try a class or two. So I registered. I decided to go to Community College of Philadelphia, I liked their slogan "A Path to Possibilities". When I went in for testing I was informed that I had to take remedial classes in Math and English, which I was also told that most people my age that come back to school need to take these classes. So I didn't feel so alone in my remedial world.

The first degree that I was going to go after was Computer Science, but the math stopped me in my tracks. I never have been good with numbers, except to count money, but words were my love. I found out from my first English Professor, Simone Zelich, about an English degree that was opening up at CCP and I decided to take it, along with the Creative Writing Certificate that was offered. This move dropped me into classes that made me feel like I was in heaven. For the first time in my life I found out that I am what you call a bibliophile. (look it up, I had to)

I met a friend that was my age, and she convinced me to take a Theater class as an elective with her. Well it didn't quite work out that way. You see, I met a woman, Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe, that blew me away. The very first day of her Acting class, I went up to her after and asked her could I just follow her throughout my time at CCP, and she said, sure if that's what you want to do. So I added a Theater degree to my list of things I wanted to accomplish at CCP. Dr. Hall, or Doc, as all of her students call her, was the most accomplished black woman that I had ever met, and she had me in awe of her style of teaching and her down-to-earth personality. I knew that not only would she be able to show me how to conduct myself in the academic world, but that I had finally met a friend for life.

So here I was with not one, but three degrees facing me. What the hell was I thinking you may ask? I wasn't thinking about the work. I was actually having fun.

I didn't have the distractions that I had in when I was younger to keep me from accomplishing this goal, so college became fun for me. The new people that I met while attending CCP, from the  men at the parking garage to the staff in the Pavilion's Cafe I will never forget the faces. Every morning, each semester for 4 years I would show up smiling and ready to get to work. Don't get me wrong, I had my ups and downs along the way, for instance, I had to repeat my first math class (I cried real tears  that day) but I finally passed my math classes.

On May 7th, 2016, I walked with my class down the aisle at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia and Graduated with High Honors. I am not finished yet because in September I will be attending Cheney State University to pursue my Master's Degree.

If you are out there and are wondering if there is life after 50, I am here to tell you HELL YEAH! Come on and get some life!