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I feel like I’m 17 years old again. I’m getting giddy at the thought of putting on a cap and gown and marching down the athletic field and accepting a real high school diploma from a real high school principal. This is something that’s been 17 years in the making and it excites me in a way that very few things could. In less than a month, I’ll be holding my high school diploma. A diploma that colleges will look at and not laugh at. It’s hard to contain my emotions when I think about it and lately it’s something I think about all day, every day.
On Monday of this week, I turned in the last of my high school work at the Vermont Adult Diploma Program. It has been a challenge to get it done in under three months and I have worked hard at it. I have enjoyed the process but I’m also relieved to finally have everything turned in in time, knowing that it’s finally finished. I did all of my school work when I was in my teens, but my parents denied me my high school diploma so I’ve had to do it all over again in a very short amount of time. I feel like I’ve just been through four years of high school in just three short months. The feeling of completion and knowing that I will be holding something that I’ve been working towards for all these years gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment and self-worth.
The process of earning my high school diploma has had far reaching effects, farther than I would have thought possible. At first I thought I was doing this just for myself but over the course of the last three months, I have seen the fire I lit for myself spread to others around me. My daughter is excited that I will be starting college courses in the fall and has been telling all of her friends about how proud she is of me. I’m showing her a first-hand example that women are valuable in our society and that we can be assertive and work towards our goals and accomplish them with hard work. My husband has been telling the guys at work about my accomplishment and journey of academic freedom. My sister received her GED two years ago and when she found out about me taking college courses this fall, she has found motivation to pursue a higher education in the near future. Friends have told me that they are going to pursue goals that they have let sit on the back burner for years due to seeing me step out and grab hold of something that I desperately wanted.
I have come to realize that my journey has become so much bigger than myself. What started out as something that I wanted to do for myself has morphed into something I never took into account when I began. It has grown and touched others. It has made me a better person while also making other better people. What started out as a personal journey has gathered fellow travelers and it’s always more exciting to have company along the way with a common destination in mind. This journey may have turned out differently than I envisioned it to be when I first started, but the changes have been welcomed and embraced with an open heart and mind.
About the columnist:
Erika Martin was withheld from attaining her high school diploma and a higher education due to living in a spiritually abusive upbringing. She is currently working towards attaining her high school diploma and plans to pursue a degree in Psychology after graduation this June. Erika will highlight relevant news and information that relates to education as well as chronicle her journey toward her diploma.