This article originally appeared in the February 2016 print edition.
By Iris Vasquez Guerrero
Resigning from my job of three years was not easy, but neither are most major life decisions. I gave up my full time position in order to return to school and finally finish my bachelor’s degree. My college career originally began when I was an eighteen-year-old know-it-all that desperately wanted to leave Laredo. I was accepted to Texas A&M-Kingsville, and I made all the usual mistakes that a new student makes. Long story short, I completed four years at TAMUK, but received no degree. I was also about two years away from graduation.
When I returned to Laredo, I decided to register for the spring semester at TAMIU in 2007. This reveals that yes, I may be a bit older than most of the other students enrolled. Hopefully you can’t tell! Unfortunately, my first semester at TAMIU was one that I was not ready for. I was not mentally prepared to return to any classroom yet. I was still young, and I was struggling to acclimate to being back at home, and with all the restrictions that come with moving back in with your parents. I attended the first class day, and never went back. I also never took the time to drop the classes, so I had two shiny F’s at the end of the semester. They were two F’s that would haunt me upon my return to school.
In the following years, I got married, moved twice, and had a few different jobs, the last of which I really enjoyed. I was working at the Laredo Housing Authority and thanks to the great staff and administration, I was able to start school again. I began taking classes at Laredo Community College in fall of 2014 while still working. I managed to obtain my associates degree in May of last year after taking just six courses! However, the decision to continue school and finally finish my bachelor’s degree was a hard one. It meant I would have to quit my job, move in with my parents once again, and live on one income. I have been working since the age 15, so relying on my husband to provide was something I was ready to do.
Since I am writing this article, you know that I indeed left my job, am currently surviving in my parents’ home, and am completely focused on graduating this May with my BA in Communication. My initial TAMIU GPA that followed me as a result of those 2 F’s, was a 0.0. It was something I thought was a computer error, or maybe I was in denial, but the reality was staring me in the face: I had a zero grade point average. Transfer courses do not contribute to your GPA, so my foolishness from 2007 was what I had to work with.
So I enrolled in summer courses, taking 6 hours, where I earned two A’s. This brought my GPA to a 2.0. I decided to try my hardest to finish in one year, so I enrolled in 18 hours this past fall. I was determined and focused. Life does that to you. So does living with your parents at the age of 31. I finished with five A’s and one B. I made the Dean’s List. I made a 3.8 for the fall semester. My cumulative GPA, however, is still hanging at a 3.18. It hurts to look at it every time I log in to DegreeWorks. So I registered for Wintermester, and added another A to the list. My cumulative GPA still doesn’t move.
My family and my husband are all rooting for me. I am so focused on finishing and getting my piece of paper, while enriching my mind, and appreciating what my professors have to offer me. I feel like I needed to be this age, needed to have experienced life, in order to take advantage of what this university has to provide me. If my 31-year-old self would have enrolled back in 2007, I know that I would not have wasted the opportunity, as I did without a thought.
It is now Spring 2016; I am enrolled in 22 hours. I am determined to graduate, even if it will be without honors. I have gone over the graduation and GPA calculators again and again; yet even if I earn all A’s in my 8 courses, I will not reach higher than a 3.5. It eats at me, and I hate myself for being so reckless.
But that will not stop me from fighting for that 3.5. There is hope for those of you who are like me, who might have had a bad start, or are afraid to come back and start over. The same can be said for those of you who have not found your footing yet. You can come back from 2 F’s. like I did. I am keeping my eye on May 20th, and know that all this sacrifice will be worth it.