My life has been and continues to be filled with wonderful opportunities and experiences.
One opportunity that comes to mind is returning to school and earning a college degree at 38-years of age.
At the time, I was only the third family member on both sides of the fence to earn a degree. I believe several of my cousins and family members have earned degrees in the years since.
What makes it even more special is that I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, home to one of the top journalism programs in the world.
Not only did I barely pass high school English, I didn’t have the grades to get into the MU School of Journalism. I was in my mid-30s, which made the experience even more challenging.
What I lacked in skills didn’t matter because I had heart and that will take you a long way in life.
Part of the requirements to get into the MU School of Journalism is taking courses in the introduction to news writing, a writing intensive course on the History of American Journalism and scoring 80 or better on a 100-question grammar exam.
The first pre-journalism course I took was on the History of America Journalism. I had to complete two writing intensive papers as part of the course work. Papers were graded on a scale of 1-15, with 15 being tops. My first paper was so bad that I scored a negative 6. Thanks to tutoring and help from a friend, I turned the paper around and my second draft earned a score of 14. I had done a great job with my research, it was structuring the paper that I had problems completing.
I also took the news writing course in the summer of 1995. I was so nervous; the instructor didn’t help either. He stepped into the room on the first day, handed out the course outline and then proceeded tell us that he had to cut a fishing trip short to come teach the class. After he finished outlining the course, he offered anyone who had not written on the course outline the option of quitting. I’m glad I didn’t.
Course requirements included finding stories in press releases, writing obits, writing spot news and features. I was told that if I earned a “C” in any class in journalism school that I was doing great. I earned a B- in the course.
The grammar exam was another bump in the road. I failed it twice and passed it the third time, which was on my 36th birthday. I will never forget the day. Prior to the exam, I was outside with other student test takers. Some were talking about the test being unnecessary, calling it a weed out test, and others were grumbling. So, I took a detour and walked to the other end of the building. It was there that I walked up and down the short sidewalk praying. I only stopped when someone walked past. I told God that I believed I belonged in this school. I may not have been the smartest student or understood it all, but I belonged there and I was going to get in the school. I did.
No matter what is going on the world, your town and your life, the opportunity to dream, take a step and see it come to pass is still there. It hasn’t changed in this country in more than 200-years. Our Freedoms may be threatened, but we are still free.
Keep going, don’t give up. If you fail or miss the mark, get up, wipe the dust off and get going again.
I challenge you to read stories of the great men and women who built this country. Learn from them and see how they persevered so we can enjoy life today.
Write down your dreams. It doesn’t cost a dime. Ask for help. It’s more humbling to ask for help than trying to do it by yourself. When you reach a goal or make a breakthrough, celebrate. Take time to celebrate your accomplishment. Then get up and go after it again.
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.