How is it that an associate degree altered my perspective on life so dramatically?
I returned to Elgin Community College because my job offered advancement opportunities for associate degree holders. Originally, it was a means to an end, a simple matter of going through the motions.
I did not, however, expect what happened next. I woke up one morning the week before finals, and found like many students that time of year, I was having an anxiety attack. It was not because of my upcoming exams, but because after the last two years of struggling to earn my degree (literal blood, sweat, and tears), I realized something absolutely eye opening. All the late night classes, cramming for statistics exams, struggling to fill out FAFSA paperwork and scholarship letters, and powering through writing research papers was about to be over. And, after all that hard work, I was about to be rewarded with the absolutely mind-blowing concept that I have options. I hadn't felt that way since I was 16, and it was wonderfully terrifying.
The world was suddenly in the palm of my hand.
This December, I will be graduating with my Associate in Science with High Honors. Elgin Community College gave me something I never truly expected—it gave me freedom. I can now use my degree as planned by moving up at work. Or, I can apply for higher positions elsewhere. I can even continue my education and pursue a bachelor’s degree, before taking the next step toward potentially owning my own business.
I could not be more grateful to my family, friends (especially those I’ve made during my time here at ECC), ECC faculty, and the ECC Foundation for all of the support they have given me over the years. And most importantly, I would like to thank my husband for always believing in me.
~ Justine Walker, Elgin