Attending my college has been a dream of mine since I was 7 years old. Twenty years later, after a few detours, I completed my Associate of Arts degree and applied to my university as a transfer student. I will never forget the call I received from Ginger in the admissions office telling me that I had been accepted! I was elated! But there was one problem. My husband is an active-duty soldier, and I had to somehow convince the US Army to move us from our current duty station to somewhere closer to my school, not an easy task. My husband requested to be placed on special duty as a recruiter and subsequently was, but we still had to get placed near my school. First, I spoke with a sergeant who was a recruiter near the school who said he could assist us in getting stationed in the area, but I soon learned he had no control over where people were placed. But I didn’t let that roadblock stop me. I then wrote a letter to the sergeant in charge of regional recruiting to request his assistance. After a week of no response, I sent a letter to the general in charge of ALL recruiting. I then contacted my congressman to request that he write a letter to the army on my behalf. The congressman was happy to help. About a week later, the congressman called to tell me that my letters had made their way to the Pentagon and to call Ginger and let her know I would be attending school in the fall! I was elated!
The summer before my senior year of college, I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to live with my aunt and uncle. I wanted to get away from my annual routine, experience a new place, and make some money. My uncle is a general contractor and builds high-end custom homes for various people in the Gulf area. That summer I was employed as a general laborer, and it was the hardest physical work I have ever endured for the lowest amount of pay I have ever earned. I met some rough men and had to deal with a daily barrage of insults and derogatory language. However, I worked through the 104-degree days in 90 percent humidity. It was a learning experience. Although the work was hard, and the company was unpleasant, I learned a lot. I learned to work hard, but to look at the bigger picture. I never thought about quitting and going home, although it was always an option. I stuck it out, made some friends, and made some money. I had made a goal and made it happen. My summer in Mississippi made me better.