Viewpoint – Even after 20 years, graduation can still be possible

By Heather Horton/former staff writer

Twenty years is a lifetime for most college students. Twenty years is also the length of time it has taken me to earn an Associate of Arts degree.

The realization of how long it has taken me to complete this part of my journey initially embarrassed me. My college career consists of countless repeats, dropped classes and years without anything when I thought I had just given up.

My goal to graduate seemed to be a carrot dangling just in front of me. I could almost reach it but could never quite taste the fruit of my on-again, off-again labor.

Many times in my college career, I would take on too many responsibilities trying to make up for my prior letdowns. This invariably led to more disappointment.

Setting myself up for failure, I would not just take an online journalism class, I would decide to go to work for the college paper, thus obligating me to a 30-minute drive several days a week. This duty on top of my weekly deadlines, other college classes and family obligations was a recipe for destruction.

Looking back over the past two decades, this pattern of over-commitment and subsequent letdown has been a common theme in most areas of my life.

However, the idea to never, ever quit has been rooted into my core belief system, and I continually trudged on. Nothing happens by accident, and this idea has set me free from the self-induced embarrassment of having had such a long college career.

No, it was not an accident that I ended up at TCC after attending Angelo State University and San Antonio College. It was no mistake when I took an online journalism class taught by Eddye Gallagher or dropped out of an editing class given by Chris Whitley. These experiences have brought me to the culmination of my college career to which I am utterly grateful.

Someone once told me that commitment is following through on an obligation long after the initial feeling of excitement is gone. I cannot say that I have followed through perfectly, but I have followed through. Overall, I have been willing to put in the work, and my goal is materializing.

I am not the same rebellious person who chose not to walk across the stage to accept my high school diploma in 1997. Experience has taught me that even though it may not look attainable, if I just keep doing the footwork and follow-through on my commitments, I will receive the fruit of my labor.

On May 16, I plan on receiving that fruit in the form of my diploma when I walk the stage at Tarrant County College’s graduation ceremony.