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Archive for December, 2011

Aren’t You Done Yet?

I keep getting asked “Aren’t you done yet?” or the assumption that I’m in grad school rather than undergrad … so I thought I’d share how I got to be where I am, which is apparently much farther behind than people realized.(this is also completely unedited or spell checked or grammar checked …)

 

In 1982, I was a sophomore in high school and rather stubbornly refusing to take algebra. I had no idea at the time how that would effect my future.I just knew that math was harder for me than anyone seemed to understand and everyone, parents included, thought I was just being lazy. I couldn’t explain how hard it was and how confusing it was. So, I dug my heels in and refused to take it. I took Business Math and Accounting instead.

When I graduated high school in 1983, I didn’t go to college … in part, but not the whole, because I’d not taken algebra.

 

In 1988, I was a waitress. I’d just lost a baby girl, and was told I’d never carry a child full term. I went to work one day and it was a co workers birthday. I’d thought she was close to, if not over, 60. I learned she was only 42. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I didn’t say anything, but someone else did and her response was “waitressing ages you”

The next day we went to get my husband signed up for his fall classes. I mumbled something about what would it take for me to go to school. His head snapped and he pulled me out of the very long line we’d already been waiting for an hour in, and there was well over an hour wait (no computer enrollment in those days). He took me straight to the enrollment office and an hour later, we were standing together in a line to register for classes.

I didn’t know what I wanted to ..but it seemed that education was ‘the family business’ so I majored in education. The plan, at the time was to become a teacher for the deaf.

 

A year later, my first son was born. October 14, 1989 and my world turned upside down. I walked into the hospital perfectly healthy and walked out with Myasthenia Gravis. A neuro muscular autoimmune disease that causes the voluntary muscles to weaken with use. It literally turns your world upside down and inside out as you learn that the more you rest, the stronger you get and the more you use the weaker you get … fatigue is undescribable … and overwhelming.I saw a doctor who told me that there was nothing wrong, stress & depression.. post partum. A neurologist told me to stop being a baby about being a new mother.

 

So I kept trying to go to go to school … after all, the best thing for depression is to keep moving … one foot in front of the other.

 

I took 2 classes the spring of 1990. I got a D in humanities and a C in meteorology.

The following fall, with no further diagnosis besides depression I enrolled in 12 hours

 

Before the end of the semester I was having to leave 2 hours before school, so I could stop and rest for an hour. Then one day, my legs just stopped working. 1/2 to class, I fell and drug myself to the wall, figuring if I waited a few minutes I could get up. I sat there for 2 hours (with students just assuming that I’d been sitting there on purpose ..an odd study place, but not unseen on campus).

I finally got strong enough to get up and went home, having missed my class … and the next day I went to my professors and withdrew. They all agreed to give me my current grade as my final grade, but the 3 weeks between this event and the end of the term, 2 forgot, and 2 gave me a withdraw passing. (the first 2 were an F and a Withdraw Fail).

However, I was too sick, too busy with a sick baby to follow up and make sure the grades were recorded as necessary. I just assumed they did what they’d said and that I had semi decent grades and credit given …shortly after I received a letter from what was then, TJC, telling me that I needed to take my high school math equivalent classes before I could continue. (and said nothing about the current grades).

 

It wasn’t for another 16 months that I would get a diagnosis. By then I’d had another baby and become even more ill. To top that off, my youngest had the same immune system malfunction my oldest had had … and then some. Our lives were filled with doctor appointments, physical therapy and speech therapy and occupational therapy, piles of pills and frequent hospital stays.

 

In April of 2008, something happened. Having tried to do some advocacy for some friends whose children had special needs and having been told for the 4th time in 4 months that “You’re just a mother with no letters behind your name” I got angry and decided to go to school. 2 days later I was enrolled in school for the fall semester of 2008. The first thing they said is “you cannot take any classes unless you take algebra with them.”That was also when I learned the credit for the classes I’d thought I’d been given credit for, I’d not and all those classes would have to be repeated. I was starting as a Freshman, not as a Sophomore like I’d expected, with only 23 hours .. not the well over 30 I thought I had. Plus, the D had to be retaken.

So, 25 years after stubbornly refusing to take the high school algebra, I enrolled in the equivalent of the algebra class .. in this school, it was called Beginning Algebra (a developmental class).

 

I had NO idea what would be facing me, or I likely wouldn’t have done it! Math 25 years after graduating from high school would be hard for almost anyone. I found it impossible. My professor pulled me aside and told me he thought there was something up. He’d watched me work and work. He knew the hours I spent in the math lab, with a tutor and in his office getting help. He’d never seen a student work so hard and get no where. So I was tested for a learning disability in math and I miserably failed the test. I didn’t just have a problem with math, I had a SEVERE learning disability in math.The concepts that others struggle with confused me and there seemed to be no way around it.

I failed that class with dismal 42% but he gave me a D on my transcript because he knew how hard I worked.

 

Fall of 2009, I stated my journey of intermediate algebra which would be far more difficult than beginning ..both emotionally and intellectually. I failed (there really should be a word that stands for miserably failed) with a defeating 29%. I retook it in the spring and worked hard m… but somehow got stuck in an 8 week class. There was no way I could pass it, but the instructor encouraged me to just keep going, because then it would help with the next time I took it. (he was right) I got a 44% this time … So I retook in the fall of 2010 and struggled, worked with 2 tutors and spent a minimum of 4 hours a day on my math, but there were weeks I spent more than 40 hours working on it! And when I got done, I thought I’d squeezed out the C I needed to move onto college algebra.

 

When grades came out, I was stunned to see a D. I contacted the professor who refused to budge from the 69.8% that gave me my D.The school said he had grading autonomy .. and it meant I had to retake it.

 

This also put me behind in my program for psychology … I can’t take Psychological Statistics without college algebra I can’t take Experimental Psych or Mental Tests and Measurements without Psychological Statistics. When I enrolled at NSU, it was on the agreement that by the end of the 3rd full semester (excluding summer or intercessions) I would have my Associates degree and all pre reqs met .. in my case, only the College Algebra. The rules had changed a bit, allowing for Math for Critical Thinking rather than algebra .. but I still had to get through Intermediate Algebra to even GET to the college Math class …

 

So I took it, by itself, in the summer. And eeeeeked out a grade that allowed me to move on.So, this fall, 2011 I finally got into my college math class.

 

Last night, I took the final, having known I’d gotten at least a C … I was ‘safe’.I wound up with a B by the skin of my teeth (400 pts earned a B and I had 401!)

This also means I got my associate degree ..

 

An associate degree in psych is absolutely worthless … but it is a rather solid stepping stone and for me? It means I finished that math!

Now, for spring, I can finally take the psychological stats which enables me to continue moving forward toward my goal towards a BA (expected in May of 2013)

and then a Masters (which, according to plans will start in August 2013)

then PhD ..

 

so, no, I’m not done yet and have a long way to go …

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