Being a senior-year high-school dropout, I will always be grateful for community college because it allowed me to restart my education with a clean slate, opening the door for me to enter University without my high school records being held against me.
With GED in hand (something a judge required me to earn as part of my societal amends for some trouble I got in as a teenager), I simply needed to apply, take some entry exams, pay for my classes, show up, and I was a ‘college student.’ No one cared who I was, where I came from, or what I did (or did not do) during my previous schooling. It was like a new lease on education.
It started with curiosity. I truly hated school growing up, but I was different now. College was voluntary and that was something that intrigued me. Perhaps I would enjoy and benefit from a new knowledge experience. It was worth a shot. I made a commitment to myself that I would take one single class.
Having some degree of self-awareness, I knew if I was going to be successful, I would have to start with what interested me, not with what was required of me. I cannot honestly say that I am proud of my inherent resistance to that which is required of me, but I have learned to live with my shortcomings and to do my best to use them to my advantage instead of allowing them to be my downfall. So, I started my college career with a subject that fascinated me: Asian religious studies. It was the first step on a long, winding path, but it was a step I am glad that I took because it was my step and my path.