Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I won't back down

When do you have enough education? I've never perceived myself as a "perpetual" student. Well, I'm always learning something new. But actually getting in the car, driving to the campus and attending classes with all those "younger" folks?

I hate being a late-bloomer. It’s not that I’m slow. It’s that there are so many roses along the way! (You know…stop and smell the roses?)

When I was 26 I had a midlife crisis. At 27 I told myself I could continue as we were or I could make a difference. At 28 I was accepted to Kent State University. My desire was to write fiction, but everyone told me I needed a Plan B to get me through life until Plan A happened.

It wasn’t easy studying for 12 credit hours of classes (for every hour of class you need two hours of study time;) taking care of two young daughters (6 and 3-1/2) and our home, and be a wife, daughter, sister… As I arrived at one hour short of senior standing as an elementary education major, I withdrew from classes for a multiple pregnancy requiring complete bed rest.

Over the years I contemplated returning to Kent State to finish that bachelor degree. But I had stumbled into journalism and was making a paycheck doing what I’d wanted all along: writing. I covered meetings, observed people…Village Council, Board of Education, Board of Public Affairs…events like Martin Sheen’s arrest for an act of civil disobedience when he climbed over a fence at the Port Authority in East Liverpool, Ohio in protest of the hazardous waste incinerator that was forced in over public protest and still sits at the East End of the city on the Ohio River. I wrote feature stories—my favorites. I honed my writing skills. And at the end of the day when I went back home I wrote some more, my “stuff.”

In 2007, because my elderly parents wanted me to go back and finish what I had started so long ago—and knowing that my children and grandchildren needed to know I meant it when I said you finish what you start—I resumed my studies, this time as an English Major. Dr. Swartz tacked on the Writing Minor. Really? Yes, she answered. Then she pushed me on in to the Honors College. Seriously? I asked. Why? “Because you belong there.”

I did three years work in two. I graduated with departmental honors and distinction in English. I successfully wrote and defended an honors thesis: writing a novel. Dad died six weeks before I walked up to that podium to claim my BA. But Mom was there, even though she never remembered the day. (That would be the Alzheimer’s.)

Dr. Swartz wasn’t going to let me stop there. She urged me to go to grad school: Master’s in Fine Arts—Creative Writing. I didn’t begin it because my mother, with Alzheimer’s and unable to take care of herself, needed me. She passed away in 2011. And I began to plan my return to the university scene.

Hey! Nobel in Literature! I’ve got my eyes on you. I’ve been approved for admission at the School of Graduate Studies and Research of Youngstown State University. I’m not going to back down, not going to quit, until I have you in my hands! The world is my oyster!

In the meantime, I’m working on that body of works required for a Nobel in Literature. And I’m about to prove that good things DO come from my little town.

(c)2012 Cathy Thomas Brownfield ~ All Rights Reserved