I remember distinctly the first time I was asked what I wanted to go to college for. My 6th grade science teacher posed it to our class (I guess start ‘em young, right?), and of course I had no idea.
Probably for a lot of the same reasons as most of my young peers, but it also seemed like a completely foreign subject to me. As students around me rattled off answers, I was trying not to break a sweat in the back of the class thinking of all the jobs I knew – which wasn’t many.
I liked music a lot, so that’s what I said, but being an oddly frugal-minded kid, I said journalism as a backup. Not because I knew much about it, but because my mom went to school for it.
Never did I think, some 10 years later, that would be pretty much exactly how my college career played out. Music at first, journalism as a backup.
But now, almost two years into this major and a year out from graduating, I’ve come to realize not only how much journalism means to me, but how much having a degree will mean to me.
My mom was not able to finish her degree.
She started and stopped at several different colleges: Wheaton, University of Missouri, Boston University, but each time had to leave for one reason or another.
She worked four jobs to support herself at a given time.
She was struggling with endometriosis – a chronic health issue where uterine tissue grows on other organs.
She faced abuse and trauma at home and, as the eldest sister of three kids, chose to address the issues alongside her siblings.
It’s hard for me to imagine needing to make a choice to leave, let alone having it dictate my future.
After attempting college, she apprenticed at a framing gallery for a whopping $5 an hour. After a year and a half, she moved to southern Maine where she ultimately opened three shops at 22 years old and had booming business for several years. She closed all three when she became pregnant with me and a few years later she made a home in a Midcoast town, Lincolnville, where she reopened and began to regrow her clientele.
Now, after 35 years in the business, she’s opened a new shop in the bubbling art hub of Camden.
And she’s happy.
That’s been my favorite part.
No, she wasn’t able to become a journalist. But she did fight for her own path in life and achieved it above and beyond.
And now I get to follow the path she wanted to, once upon a time. She gets to read my writing, see my accomplishments, and make me smile when things feel a little tough.
She’s proud of me, and I’m proud of her.
And journalism isn’t just a backup anymore. Or a long-lost dream.
We made it.