I knew that I was good at business, so I made that my first undergraduate major. What I didn't know was that when I graduated the first time in 2009, there would be no jobs for me. Leaving the country to find work was one of the hardest but most rewarding things in my life.
In 2011 I came back from teaching English in Korea. I traveled some, saw some family, and enjoyed the little bit of cash I had saved while I tried to pay down my school loans.
My aunt lived in Oklahoma City, near my grandparents and my cousins.
She had just remarried and had her third kid. I was excited to see them when my travels brought me through that way. The original plan was to stop and see them for a few days before heading back to Tennessee, home. About three weeks after having her baby and a few days after I got there, my aunt went to the doctor with complaints that she was still feeling worse than she should.
She learned that she had cancer, which was manifested by a glioma on her brainstem. A glioma is a kind of tumor that grows tendrils that reach out like hairs. In normal tissue it's particuarly difficult to operate on, but because it was on her brainstem no doctor would even think of touching it.
My new uncle, the man my aunt had married and had a three week old baby with, is owner of a durable medical equipment business that is partnered with a hospice agency. I offered to help with his business to give him more time with my aunt. They would go on to try everything from holistic medicine to shamans, but none of it would change the eventual outcome.
Over the next 9 months, I worked in healthcare. I saw people's needs and wants, learned their stories, felt their pains and shared their hopes and fears. Through the nurses working for the hospice agency, I saw the bravest, most capable, most caring people I'd ever seen, and finally knew what I wanted to be.
My aunt died after 9 months of struggle, but the ups and downs had taken their toll on my family. We buried her on a cloudy, windy day near Christmas. Everybody in my family reacted differently. My uncle, Grams, and dad were all hysterical. Gramps, my cousins, and I tried our best to put on our strong faces and didn't do so great.
The hospice nurses had given me direction. I knew then that I wanted to be a nurse. When my aunt passed, my uncle threw himself into his business, channeling his grief into a frenzied need for progress. I could no longer help in the same capacity that I was. Family and home were calling in Tennessee.
It wasn't long after I got back that I learned my alma mater, Tennessee Technological University, had a really great nursing program. (We were actually just ranked FIFTH in the nation!) It's a really competitive program with a small admission rate - only 60 people were admitted in my class, which is the most they've ever admitted for one class, but there were hundreds and hundreds of applicants. I counted myself lucky.
Now, I'm three semesters away from graduating with my Bachelors of Nursing. My dream and future are so close I can almost touch it, but one thing has constantly been in my way - money.
The first few semesters back in school, I was eligible for and received some financial aid through loans. However, as a nontraditional student attempting a second undergraduate degree, the cap for loans drops. That meant that my first degree's loans counted against how much I could take out for this degree. I got aid for the first two semesters.
Now I'm considered ineligible, so for the past two semesters I have scrimped, saved, sold what I had that was worth any money, and tried to find any opportunities to make enough money to cover tuition.
I made it for two semesters, but life always likes to put big walls in the way for you to get around, doesn't it? Fall of last year, my wonderful girlfriend who has helped me this whole time, was in a car accident.
She was fine! Her car, however, was totaled. It wasn't an issue for her to use mine to get to work. What I didn't realize at the time was that it would be impossible for me to get a job the following summer, this summer, without a car. Nothing around this area wanted to hire anyone, much less somebody without a car.
We've been living on about $260 a week. In Cookeville, that's enough to pay bills, get gas and groceries, and maybe have $100 left a the end of the month. There was no way to save money for school. My financial aid page tells me the exact number is $3,277.50. Proof -
I've tried everything I could think of. I have almost nothing left to sell. Nobody close enough to walk to is hiring. My girlfriend has been applying to better jobs like crazy, but with no fruit. This is my last ditch effort to achieve my dreams, and I'm asking all of you for help.
This whole dream was never possible without help. I can't do it alone.
Luckily, I was given a scholarship that will help. To keep my spot in nursing school, I have to have at least half of the $3300 I owe for this semester by August 13th, 2014. If I can't do that, I will forfeit my spot. A forfeiture here pretty well means you're done. The chances of readmission would be slim. To make matters even more stressful, you only get one shot at readmission, whether it's due to financial reasons or a failed class.
So there it is everybody. Where I came from, where I am, and why I'm here. Please help me reach my goal! Without your help, I won't make it to my dream!
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