My Journey through 10 Years of College

I am so beyond happy to share this essay with all of you. I wrote it as my final paper in college. It is so important to me and I hope you all enjoy it.

As I walked out of my Oceanography class, in the beginning of September of 2001, this being the first college course I would take in my life, I noticed unusual moods being spread across campus. Some people were frantic, while others were confused and dumbfounded, as if news had spread but nobody knew for sure if it was true. One thing that stood out, however was that everyone seemed to be on their cell phones. That’s when I got a call, it was my older brother, and he had called to tell me that the twin towers had been hit by airplanes. I remember screaming into the phone, “What, are you kidding me?” So there I was on September 11 2001, a freshman in college and I had been part of a day that would change the nation forever. To this day, that day continues to grab a hold of my emotions. Even as I read this paragraph over and over again I find myself getting choked up. Tears have even fallen from my eyes, thinking about it. 9/11 is burned in my brain, as it is in everyone else’s, especially those that call New York State their home. As I think of that year, to me it had been the start of an important moment in my life, college. To others it would be a year filled with moments they would never forget. Whenever someone asks me or when I think of where I was on that day, Oceanography class always hits me.

When I first entered college, my dream was to be a dolphin trainer, so at a community college in Westchester, New York the only course that was available, for me under that category was indeed oceanography. It is ironic though, because being that this was my first dream and my first course, that day changed me as it changed others. That one day made me open up my eyes, and evaluate my decisions in life. I walked out of that semester with a change of heart about my career as a dolphin trainer. Science just became too much of a challenge for me, and I wanted to take courses in college that I would enjoy and have fun while doing it, and I wanted confidence that it was possible for me to succeed. Although I knew that I would always wonder what if, and I would still get emotional when I went to SeaWorld, I decided to go with my second passion, and that was children and making a difference in their lives. The next step for me was completing my core classes and moving on to a four year college.

Along that journey however, within my first few years as a college student, there were struggles that I faced. Some had to do with family issues and others were distractions from friends and wanting to add a relationship, to my hectic life. I guess for me, it was just wanting that person there, that I could go to for comfort and support. I did meet a few guys at the beginning of college but never any that were worth keeping around. I remember one in my freshman year that only lasted 3 months. Still being a young adult, I couldn’t quite grasp what was the point of it. It was then that I started to realize, everything must happen for a reason. I guess with him, the point was, my friends. I met a lot of them at this community college, ironically through him, who ended up being that guy that you ask yourself afterwards, “what was I thinking.” Any way it wasn’t until the summer of 2003, right before my senior year, if that’s what you call it when you’re at a community college, that I met a great guy, at least that is what I thought of him then. This particular guy’s name was Joe and I actually met him on a social networking site. Back then I think this site was our face book. People would go on, post their pictures, and have people add them as friends and communicate or possibly meet in person. I remember when I saw him I just had to meet him. This relationship went on, from the time that I turned 20 till a little after I turned 25. Five years of my life down the tubes. My 20s wasted over a guy. A guy that didn’t trust me, was overly jealous, and gave me no room to breathe, a guy that for some reason became the love of my life. We were on and off throughout these wonderful five years, and at one point 2 years into it, I realized I needed out. Not only were him and I having problems and constantly fighting, but my mother and I along with what seemed at the time to be my whole household, just kept bumping heads. Nothing was seen from the same perspective and everything that started normal, would end in some type of confrontation. I remember one day coming home from work, as I opened the front door, to my house, the hall was filled with clothes and junk that seemed to be from my room. Not only was the hallway masked by my stuff, but the driveway was too. My mother must have been in one of her crazy moods, because she happened to enter my messy room that day and left it making sure all my stuff within it did as well. This is when it all changed, once again. My life had made a quick turn, for what I thought was for the better. I needed to get out somehow, but how was this even possible. I had no money saved, nobody to move in with, and if I left, the car I had would most likely not be coming with me. Finally, I remembered having a conversation with a friend of mine about what college she was going to. Tina was a friend that was 2 years younger than I, who I ironically met on the computer, just as I met Joe. I think it was in some chat room, where we found that we had mutual friends. She convinced me to apply to Hofstra University, a college in Long Island, NY. I thought this would be perfect, I would apply and if I got in, it was meant to happen and that would be my escape.

On my birthday, August 11th 2005 I decided to go Hofstra and apply in person, because they would waiver the application fee. Tina came with me for support, and because she knew the campus I felt more comfortable being there. I remember getting called into the office, where the gentlemen was reviewing my transcripts. He said he noticed I had a rough two semesters as the community college but during the last two I came out strong and this is why Hofstra decided to accept me, as one of their students. I honestly couldn’t believe this was happening. I actually cried, and thanked him over and over again, for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I was overly excited as well as shocked, I Rosa Rodia, someone that failed every course almost, in my freshman year of high school, someone that had no motivation to do her best, someone that had to go to a community college because neither her SAT scores or GPA were good enough for anything else out of high school, I now was a person that got accepted into a University. This accomplishment changed me as a person and a student. When I got home that day, I phoned Joe, to tell him that I would soon be leaving New Rochelle. He of course was not happy and didn’t think our relationship would work if I decided to dorm in Long Island. Not only was this because it was too far, but he didn’t see himself being with a girl that lived in a dorm. Of course I was upset over this, but wasn’t this the point, to get out. As Jacques Lacan says in his book, My Teaching, ‘Eating shit is all very well, but you can’t always eat the same shit. So, try to get hold of some new shit.”

Hofstra for me was just that. A change, something different, a part of my life that was independent. I decided to major in Speech Communications and Rhetoric, along with Elementary Education as my minor. I chose this major for one reason, because I figured when I teach I am going to be in front of a whole classroom of students, as if every day I had a presentation to give. I figured this would be the perfect major to get some practice, in doing just that. I remember my first day there, as I tried frantically to find my classes, within this huge campus, I became overwhelmed. There was just too much space, and not enough direction. I looked around and noticed all the guys were wearing flip flops and the girls were dressed for a fashion show. I thought to myself, “could I really go here, is this place for me, because right now I just want to go home.” I stuck it out though, and finally found my way. I loved my first semester at Hofstra. I took a media course, an interpersonal relationship course, a speech course and few education courses. My schedule was full, but I ended up not feeling at all overwhelmed. Even though I went home on the weekends, and had a much better relationship with my mother, I was on my own at Hofstra, and could do what I wanted, when I wanted to. There was no more anxiety or pressure from family, or headaches from a boyfriend, it was just me and Hofstra University.

Unfortunately I only spent a year of my education at Hofstra. Financial issues, caused me to struggle with getting another loan, and ex-boyfriend issues made me want to go home. When I look back at this decision, the only thing that I can say is that although I may not feel that it was the right one to make, I can, however look back on my experiences at Hofstra, whether they are academic ones or social ones, and know that it was a complete learning experience for me. Within the academic world, I finally looked at myself as a high academic achieving student, not just an average student who did things to get by. I enjoyed college and the work that came along with it. Socially, I learned a lot about myself on the inside and how I came across to people on the outside. I entered Hofstra as an insecure scared student, but left it as a woman who felt she could accomplish whatever she set out to do in this world. In my opinion, even though I was now left in 25,000 dollars of debt that did not lead to a complete college education, I gained life lessons which to me, are worth more than a diploma from Hofstra University.

So what now? This was the question that lingered in my mind. A year ago from this moment, I was a student at a great university, and now, I am someone that is back in city where she was born, with an overprotective, increasingly more jealous, and suffocating boyfriend. It stumps me as to why I would go backwards in life, when forwards was going so well. When I think about it, love was the reason. I took a chance on something that I thought had a chance. Of course anyone would have predicted that it became a constant struggle. The suffocation became unbearable and fights never stopped. Although this was a tough moment in my life, it did not stop me from continuing my education. I wanted to be a teacher and that was going to happen.

In the month of September 2006 this time, I was once again starting at a new college, the third one so far. This would be at the College of New Rochelle. I never wanted to be that person that attended college in the city she grew up in, but I quickly tossed that opinion away, because I knew I did not have many choices left in my book and I had to continue to move forward, if my life was going to go anywhere, beyond the small city of New Rochelle. I decided to become an English major at CNR, instead of continuing with speech communications. I think this was because around that time, I don’t think CNR had that type of major. When I thought of all the other choices, English is what stood out to me. I never viewed myself as being strong in my writing, or knowing much about literature, but I figured I had taken a few chances with my education already, and another one couldn’t hurt, and anyway the worst that could happen was another learning experience. Unfortunate though, my life was repeating itself. Once again financial issues caused me to leave college. I decided until my credit, along with my mother’s was better, I would work 40 hours a week and save as much money as I could. Sooner than I knew it, two years had passed since I left CNR. I never wanted to be that person either, the one that takes a break from college and never goes back. A good thing finally happened though, my mother came into some money, because of a lawsuit. She caught up on her bills, fixed her credit and paid for my college education.

Here I was again, in the month of September, now in the year 2009 eight years after I started college, back at the College of New Rochelle. Surprisingly not still with the same overprotective, boyfriend, who almost a year ago from this moment I decided to walk away from. Two years with him, struggling to make love grow. Time wasted on him, that should have been used on myself. The one thing that I feel came out of that relationship, was that I realized the type of guy that I deserved and that I was worth much more than who he wanted me to be.

I see the College of New Rochelle as a major turning point in my life. Not only as a college student, but as a person. The teachers here, during my experience have been inspiring, and have creating hope and a future within me. The teaching department has allowed me to bring out my creativeness, and love for children and teaching. I have created lesson plans, that I didn’t think could come from me. Ones in which I actually see myself teaching to a classroom full of students, in the future. The College of New Rochelle has made me believe that a future in teaching is in store for me, and is possible. As an English major at the College of New Rochelle, I have watched myself grow, as a writer, something I never imagined I would associate myself with. Not because I frowned upon it, but because I didn’t think I was smart or intelligent enough to be a part of it. Instead here I am the year 2011, almost ten years since 9/11 happened, that day that changed the lives of many, including my own. I have continued as an English major, and in my opinion one that is succeeding. I have written many papers in the past two and half years here, that I was surprised at the outcome of them, and the reactions that came from some of my English professors. When I think of my English professors, that I have had throughout the years at CNR, the one that stands out the most is my advisor, Dr. Nick Smart. He has introduced me to a world of literature, that I never expected to be exposed to. If I had to make someone responsible for my accomplishments, within literature, and writing, and my ability to develop my writing skills, he would be the one. The very first class I took with him was, Intro to literature, theory, and criticism. This is where I began to write important papers, that would help me grow as a student. This is where I first became exposed to authors and literature that I have never heard of. A year has passed, and other classes were taken, that have allowed me to grow, within my major. I made a decision, in my last semester as a college student, to take a creative writing fiction course. I would have to say this was the best decision I could make, for my last semester. This class definitely brought out the fictional writer in me, and honestly I did not believe that it existed. I have always dreamt of writing children’s novels, and this class has helped in pushing me closer to that dream. In Charlotte Bronte’s book The Professor, she writes a paragraph in which a professor observes a change in his pupil. This I can relate to because I feel that because of this professor I have made a change in myself, as a student.

“To speak truth, I watched this change much as a gardener watches the growth of a precious plant, and I contributed to it too, even as the said gardener contributes to the development of his favourite.”

So I ask myself what is left now, as I finish this paper, the last college assignment as an undergraduate at the College of New Rochelle and prepare myself for graduation, 10 years later from the college in the city that I was born in. My future is what lies before me, with an amazing partner, whose name is Brian. He has pushed me, when the end of these past two semesters as a college senior have gotten too hard. When the anxiety was too overwhelming to deal with and all I wanted to do was quit. Brian was the one that told me to not give up, and that I am almost there. He will be a part of that future. My future as an educator, to children that need someone like Brian, to push them in the right direction and encourage them to never give up. I want to be that teacher that makes a difference, in the lives of students, as my teachers have done for me, especially here at the College of New Rochelle. I can only look into the future and hope that I will become that amazing teacher. I know however that I will be confident within my pedagogy, and strong in demeanor, but at the same time my classroom will be full of brightness, and young minds that love to learn.

“She now took her place amongst her pupils with an air of spirit and firmness which assured them at once that she meant to be obeyed-and obeyed she was. They felt they had lost their power over her. If any girl had rebelled, she would no longer have taken her rebellion to heart; she possessed a source of comfort they could not drain, a pillar of support they could not overthrow; formerly, when insulted, she wept; now, she smiled.” (Bronte, pg 119)

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