Up For The Challenge

Quickly, with a racing heart, I completed my scholarship application for a local community college.  Yes!  I was notified that I would receive a scholarship to finish my Associate Degree, which I started over 20 years ago.  I was interrupted because I was married and had five children.  I would just tell my husband first about my great news, since I had lingering doubts about returning.  Then, after all the paperwork, placement test, courses and books were selected, I broke the news to my five children, ages 13-23.  Most of them were happy for me, but  one child had reservations about my new title, “student.”

At the time, the two oldest  children were current college students attending local colleges, while living at home.  I was briefed by them that today’s college students might use incorrect grammar, curse and talk of drinking.  “Mom,” they pleaded, “you can’t correct or change them.”  They will be students just like you. I listened to their advice.

 I started off nervously with two courses, after getting my children to help me choose the right look, jeans, sweater top and school bag.  The big day had arrived in the winter of 2009.  Hesitantly, I entered the classroom and chose a seat.  I was warmly welcomed by the student next to me by their smile, and I started up a conversation.  I took copious notes for my first class of the day.  Later, after each of the two classes, I would approach the teachers briefly, explaining my situation.  I questioned them on how I could maintain an “A” in the class.  I thought to myself, “I can do this.” My first day of returning back to college was completed.

 From then on, I received wonderful encouragement from the teachers at the community college, as well as at PSU Abington.  This was the first part of the formula for achieving my college degree.   The next part of the formula was to learn how to budget my time, since I was a mom, and eventually a full-time student, active in the community and the college.  As I juggled composing and rewriting papers, reading assignments, receiving tutoring when needed, meeting deadlines and learning the scary world of Microsoft Word and computers (which was foreign to me compared to my fellow classmates) I moved successfully forward.

I transferred to PSU Abington in the fall of 2010.  The transfer counselors were very welcoming and encouraging when they helped me plan my curriculum towards a Bachelor Degree.  Involvement in groups and activities at my new school was a high priority.  Through participation in activities, I met many fascinating and fun students and teachers.

One of my high points as a PSU student was flying to Germany in May 2011 with classmates from my International Business course. This was a Faculty embedded program that lasted ten days.  I received a Study Abroad Scholarship.  It was an eye opening and life time memorable experience that I will always cherish.  I strongly recommend it to all the students at PSU.  Thanks to our newly formed Facebook group with our German students, it was as if we already knew them prior to arriving at Hof, Germany, for classes and tours of the area.  We prepared for the trip by attending mandatory pizza meetings on Wednesdays, to discuss our itinerary and what we should expect, once arriving in Germany.

The final part of the formula will be this January, my last semester.  I am ecstatic and my family is so proud of me, as I head towards my goal of graduating from PSU.  Even though there were some hectic and tearful days, stressful semesters, and knee surgery during winter break, it was well worth it. So far, I have attained Dean’s list status every semester.  From day one, when I returned to college, I made it my mantra that “I’m up for the challenge.”  It was my inspirational sentence that continues to guide me forward like a beacon to a ship on a dark-moonless night.  Soon it will be time to disembark at the nearest port, PSU Abington, PA, in May 2012, for my graduation.

—Marian Piecyk