When I turned 18, I had a clear vision of how the next decade of my life would transpire: I’d get my bachelor’s degree by 22, my master’s degree by 24, and a dream job by 30. Maybe I’d toss a PhD in there for good measure (no big deal).
I used to think my 18-year-old self would be rather disappointed to know that I spent the last decade stuck in a monotonous existence of cubicle jobs and paycheck-to-paycheck living. She’d be truly angered, though, by the fact that I had become an ageist and a passive spectator in my own life. I pitied myself for not going to college, and resigned myself to a life of regret on the premise that I was too old to change anything.
But one day, I woke up for work – miserable, again – and decided I’d had enough of feeling like a victim. So I quit my job and enrolled at FCC. Two years later, as I reflect on both my graduation and the many years of college yet in front of me, I take stock on how many things have changed in my life as a result of this decision.
There are the obvious things, of course. I have a college degree and all the education and opportunity that comes with it. In two years, I will have another degree, more education, and even more opportunity. I am pursuing a field of study that I love. But there are intangible changes in me that share the same importance as my degree.
I’m no longer an ageist who discriminates against herself and limits what she dares to attempt. I’m inspired, brave, resolute, and optimistic for the future. I don’t worry about whether or not I will accomplish something; I simply make my plans and follow them.
And I have to thank FCC, and more importantly its faculty, for being such a profound catalyst for change in my life.
The “18-year-old me” is not disappointed anymore.
Shanna Hoopengardner (’14) will transfer to Colorado Mesa University this fall to pursue her love of mathematics.