Where I am now is a far cry from where I began. I grew up in the inner city of Buffalo, NY and my childhood was far from normal or peaceful. At an early age I was thrust into a life of crime and drugs. I am now 43 years old and after years of trials and tribulations, I see that my life’s events happened for a reason and in the sequence they were supposed to occur.
“Never Would Have Made It” by Pastor Marvin Sapp from Grand Rapids, Michigan crossed my path. I was shown that there was a power greater than myself that was with me. At this time is when I knew my negative circumstances could be turned into positive changes. This song embodies my experiences of who I am, where I was and where I am going as a man, a father, and a human being. Now here I am at GCC, finally using my energy to improve my future.
Up until three years ago I saw nothing but adversity. I felt overwhelmed and out of control. My life seemed to be in a constant downward spiral. My parents passed away and I dropped out of high school. Often times I was homeless and hungry and this was the catalyst that turned me to a life of crime and drugs. I have been incarcerated several times and have dealt with other judicial agencies.
When I first heard the song “Never Would of Made It” I was intrigued and inspired. Changing my life did not happen overnight but slowly I began to examine all aspects of my life and see that those crippling events were in actuality strengthening me in mind, body and soul. Some of the song lyrics that stand out for me are “I made it through my storm and my test because You were there to carry me through my mess”, “When I look back over all you brought me through I can see that you were the one I held on to” and “I would’ve lost my mind a long time ago if it had not been for You, I am stronger, I am wiser, I am better, much better”.
I do not believe in coincidences or luck. I was meant to endure my earlier experiences in order to bring me to a place where I can now appreciate what I am doing and what I have. I can stand here and say I made it, and therefore anybody who is faced with adversity can overcome with determination and achieve life’s abundance of blessings. For me, I never would have made it had I not believed in something larger than myself and persevered through what I did deem as negatives but in reality were positives in disguise. Because of my tenacity and efforts I am now at GCC studying with enthusiasm in hopes of bettering my life and the lives of others.
“When I was laid off in November 2012, the last thing I had considered was going back to school. At 56, I felt that I was too old and unprepared for the demands of a college degree. After speaking to my daughter (who is also a student) I realized that going back to school was the best way to update my skills and make myself competitive in today’s job market. Being a machinist for over 30 years has taken a physical toll on me and without a degree I have been unable to secure a supervisor role that pays a livable wage. I finally decided to enroll and devote myself to earning an A.A.S. in Business Administration. Soon I realized that there were others at GCC just like me. They shared the same fears and the same doubts. All of the staff has been very helpful in helping me through this difficult time. This semester I had the pleasure of being in Mr. Dudkowski’s Advertising class. He inspired me to write this blog about my experience here at GCC. One of my classmates, Robin, is also older and returning to school to advance her career. She is busy not only with school, but also building a house, her artwork and tending to her small farm. If we can do it anybody can! Now that I am in school I am hearing about other careers that I can apply for after I earn my degree and I am hearing about them from teachers who have real-world experience in those positions. The teachers at GCC bring their own experiences to the classroom. It is not about just teaching us what is in the textbooks. I am in my third semester and I am proud to say that I am earning A’s. I am on track to graduate in December of 2014 and I have come to learn that going to college is not just for younger students anymore. Thank you GCC for helping me to realize my full potential!”
Donna has 2 children, Michelle. who is GCC’s PTK president, and a son who lives 2 hours away with his wife and Donna’s 2 awesome grandchildren. Kenneth is soon to be 16 and Samantha is 8. Her time is devoted to her education and family, for they are the backbone of everything she does.
“At the age of 56 I have chosen to return to school to further my education. Having worked for a company for almost 20 years as a color specialist and doing other various jobs and getting laid off, the choice for schooling seemed like a natural fit.
Not always making the right choices in my life this opportunity was one not to ignore for me. I am trying to get a degree in digital art. Having done art since I was a little girl will help and one should feel you’re never too old.
I have also developed some wonderful friendships. My instructor Mr. D. is trying to push me out of my comfort zone and urging me to make use of the social media that all students have access to. This is very hard for me; I am a very private person.
With the help of a classmate Donna, she has helped to get me acquainted with social media. Donna has been an inspiration for me also. We both have so much in common and want careers when finished. To enjoy what our chosen fields would be. Being an adult student seems natural for returning to school. I am now more settled and focused to achieve my goals.”