I was precocious and haute about getting into the University of Miami. I had sacrificed having a typical high school experience to be involved in any activities that would have me, hold a job, and get top grades. I must admit I was heartbroken when I had to transfer from the University of Miami to the University of Delaware in 1997. I tried to stay in Mechanical Engineering until I realized I wouldn’t be working on engines, ever. Miami’s program was a Mechanical AND Aeronautical Engineering program, unlike Delaware’s. Instead, I would be sizing pipe supports and HVAC systems forthe rest of my life, because everything is forever at 19.
So I began to transition to electrical engineering whilst balancing a few personal responsibilities which included working full time. I had since lost my academic scholarships when I transferred, I had also lost my “early-admission” perks for committing to and being accepted by Miami as a junior in high school. Gone. I wouldn’t realize the ramifications of all that until I tried to settle into this new college life.
Delaware was a culture shock. It was a bucket of ice cold water being heaved into my sun kissed face. I didn’t know colleges could be so different.
In all fairness to the Delaware campus, they were no better or worse than 90% of the colleges in the US. I had been sheltered in my small high school and coddled at Miami. I hated the 300 plus student classes, the study groups where no one studied. I didn’t live on campus so it was hard to find groups to meet with. When I did find someone who was willing to help, they treated it like a date (insert eyes rolling here). I failed epically and basically failed out of UD, but I dropped out before that could happen. I just walked away from it all.
I kept trying to go back and hated it, every class, every moment, and I gave up. I was resentful for having to take bull$&@t courses that I knew I would never need to refer back to in the real world (confirmed). I became disenchanted with ‘higher education’ and looked at it as only being attainable by the already established, not for the daughter of blue collar parents.
I attempted to make a career in graphic design and architectural design. I laugh now because I brazenly started a consulting company at 23 and landed a contract with a Fortune 500 company to manage their facility plans globally. I thought that was it, I was golden but that only got me so far. I saw that not having a degree kept me out of the conversation for better projects and bigger contracts. I finished out my commitment and moved on to work for architect and engineering firms and found the same limitations. If anyone tells you you don’t need a degree to achieve your dreams, punch them in their mouth for me please, because I have hit the ceiling. I have once again found myself in a place where, even though my ideas are used and implemented, I am not a part of the conversations that take place to make the important decisions and it is beyond defeating.
I have quite a few beautiful accomplishments and quite a few more to achieve and I am tired of having the world only caring about what college I went to. I look at all the people around me with degrees upon degrees and I think “God, what I could do with that.” It feels similar to how I viewed the superheroes in comic books with their powers. That is how I view someone with a formal education, God, what they could do with that. I would change education policies and join boards. When I am done all this, I may not be able to stop a runaway train with my bare hands, but I will make it stop. I can change the game.