Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FINISHED (04/09/20)
TITLE: The Final Grade
By Bonnie Kronberger
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Here I was, a child bride at eighteen, thrust into a college environment. My husband was completing his junior year, studying to be a biology teacher. I admired that, but having been a lackadaisical student, graduating from high school with a C+ average, my career direction was to become a beautician. Shortly after we married I completed my schooling and received my cosmetology license.
We lived in a trailer park filled with college students. As we began making friends, insecurities filled my head. I wasn’t comfortable taking part in the conversations and banter, fearing I would appear stupid. I imagined a lifetime of being around educated people, feeling inferior. As a teacher, my husband would have summers free, along with our children, and I’d be trapped in a beauty salon, doing hair year round. I didn’t like the sound of that, at all!
“Lee, I’m going to always feel inadequate, hanging out with college graduates. You should have married someone smart.”
We both came from low income families and knew the struggles of living on minimum wage. Our parents were hard-working blue collar employees, without benefit of a high school education. No sibling in either of our families had gone to college, and that had never been a consideration for me.
“You can go to college if you want to,” Lee encouraged.
I’m sure my mouth hung open and I looked as stupid as I felt. “No I can’t. My grades are too low from high school to even be admitted into college. Besides, I’m not smart enough.”
My husband, of a few months, took me into his arms and spoke words I had a hard time believing. “Of course you’re smart enough. You can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it. Enroll for summer term, where the requirements are relaxed, and then you’ll be eligible for fall classes.”
I cried some tears during hours of prayer and mental gymnastics, as I considered this unbelievable idea. I knew I had not used my God given talents in high school. My timidity and laziness were not who I had to be. Of course, my study habits were minimal and success had seldom been mine. I recalled a few times in high school determining to study hard for a short period of time, and was happily surprised at how well I did. But self-motivation and hard work were not my strong suits and I quickly returned to the habit of giving up. Now, here I was, considering college. I was so scared my pattern of giving up would sabotage my efforts to succeed. My husband had a work ethic which I greatly admired. He grew up working in the fields, buying his own school clothes, and taking pride in a job well done. I so admired his pleasure in work, but for myself, most things appeared too big to tackle.
But with God all things are possible and I finally believed college was a possibility. And it was. Not easy, but possible. I enrolled in college with fear and trembling. What was I thinking? I didn’t have the skill or experience to tackle academia. Yet my husband became my cheerleader, encouraging me to have faith in my abilities, and coaching me in the art of studying and perseverance.
Taking classes year round, I graduated in three years with a Bachelor degree in Elementary Education. After two terms of classes and good grades, I received a tuition scholarship. My self-esteem was healthy and I learned the satisfaction of hard work. My husband earned his Master degree and got a teaching job near the college so I could complete my education. I continued with classes until I too received my Master degree.
Tucked away in the closet are our many diplomas. They don’t signify that we are smarter than anybody, nor do they symbolize a life of ease. The story they tell is one of perseverance toward a goal. I know now, I could have been a beautician my whole life and found success and satisfaction. I could have developed self confidence and wisdom without any further education. So the diplomas weren’t necessary for happiness. The joy came from learning to work hard, to keep going when the going got tough, and to cross the finish line with the task completed.
The lessons I learned in academia were helpful in my life journey; be an overcomer, persevere, and run the race well, clear to the finish line— always keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus.
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