My journey back to school

ALICIA SMITH–Reporter/Photographer  

JAMES SMITH–Photographer 




I am 51-years-old and a proud Spartan. But I felt like a newborn baby when I first walked on campus. Classes started and my teachers all gave speeches that made me want to walk out of the room. While I listened to them talk, I thought it would be too difficult, especially without books. I even changed my classes online several times in one day.


Photo illustration David Rojas

After feeling hopeless and still not sure of what to do, I went to the Counseling Office. They gave me a 15-minute appointment. It turned out to be one of the best 15 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life. I went into the office and released all the fears that I had. I explained how I felt too old to be in school and that I couldn’t afford books. The counselor told me that one of her best professors was over 80-years-old, and she didn’t start school until she was in her fifties. I went in as a kitten, but I came out like a lion. 

In Counseling 100, I met Professor Don Love.  His name says it all. Love asked me if I had my books yet. “You need books. We have to fix this” he said and gave me the textbook. I left Professor Love’s office hugging that book with tears of joy in my eyes. I had my first book now. It was something tangible towards my new education.  

I didn’t expect the enormous help I received in the HUB. I didn’t have a computer at home so I used the library computers. I didn’t know how to write in MLA Style, so I had to ask for help. I’ve learned the people who wear the vests are wonderful. The librarians patiently showed me how to do citations, how to scan paperwork, how to change fonts, page numbers, how to download homework to my Google drive and any other computer skill that needed to succeed in class.  

As a military wife, a mother of six adult children, five daughters and one son, I had to learn a new time management system. My children are used to me being there to fill in any gaps such as picking up and dropping them off at the last minute. I would stop at the drop of a dime to go help. Since I have been in school, I’ve had to prioritize and say no a lot more.

Since the beginning of last semester, I’ve learned to focus on myself for the first time in my life. I’m still struggling with feeling guilty when I say no, but I know that if I achieve my goals, I will be helping my family by setting an example.


  1. Way to go Alicia! So incredibly proud of you. I have no doubt that you will do great things. Please share this with Don Love and the Umoja family!


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