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For me, this isn’t just a graduation. This isn’t my beginning, nor is it my end. My name is Karrah Shremshock, and I am a 25-year-old (soon-to-be) graduate of San Jacinto College. To understand how much this means to me, you might need some background information. I will be the first in my family to graduate college, although my brother has successfully completed a technical program. I graduated high school in 2007 with a sad GPA of 2.2. I thought it was standard knowledge that after high school one attended college the following semester. Sadly, my circumstances were much different than that of my friends. My parents, as badly as they wanted to, couldn’t afford what education they believe I deserved. So I continued to work. I had a job the month I turned 16 and worked nonstop through high school (along with being a member of FFA) up until my first trial of college. I went to Houston Community College for four semesters. If I wasn’t dropping classes because I was failing, I was skipping classes and accepting a failing grade.
At the age of 21, I gave up. I had a 1.8 GPA and knew then that I just wasn’t ready for college. In order to pay for it, I had to work 40+ hours a week waiting tables (waitressing was the only job that gave me the flexibility of being able to go to school during the day and work at night). I had no time to study or write papers. My job became my life. I met the man I would call my husband, and we got married at 22 and moved near his dad in Clear Lake. My husband went to college on a baseball scholarship (but never graduated due to eligibility and injury reasons). His mom graduated from Florida State; his dad graduated from Georgia Tech; and his stepmom from LSU. His family knew the importance of a quality education and how it could change your life.
That is when his family changed my life. We had been married for a year and were both constantly working. We were living a decent lifestyle, but neither of us had a REAL education. I talked about wanting to go back to school and getting a degree, but in order to do it, I would have to work one semester to save up the money, meaning I could only go to school for half the year. This in when his dad and stepmom chimed in. They decided to do something for me that I never would have dreamed of; they wanted to pay my way through college. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to say no, but I had no good reason to. They insisted, and as engineers, they were quite persuasive. I told them I could never pay them back. All they asked in return was that I do that best I could. And that I did.
Here I am now, 25 years old and about to graduate with an AA in Behavioral and Social Sciences. My GPA is an amazing 3.8. I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I am here today to say that just because you gave it “the old college try” and it wasn’t for you, doesn’t mean it won’t ever be! It took me almost five years in the real world to realize that an education was my best chance. It took me five years to find who I really was, and become a better student than I ever thought I could be. The 18 year old me wasn’t ready for college. The 25 year old me has been nonstop focused. What I am saying is college will always be there. Whether you are ready right out of high school, or don’t go back until your kids are in college, it will be there. Don’t force yourself to do something you are not ready for. When you are ready, it will be the most profound and rewarding experience of your life.
I am ready now. I look forward to the next four years of my life at UHCL. I can’t thank San Jac enough for being the right college for me, the teachers, the campus, the atmosphere. It all started right here. Congratulations to all my fellow graduates! Whether you decide to continue on, or end your education here, YOU did it! And that’s something to be proud of.