As the spring semester begins, I find that I have mixed emotions. You see, this is my last semester as a full-time student. I will be graduating in May, and my almost 18-year-old daughter will graduate from Buhach Colony High School one week later.
I began this journey three years ago in the spring of 2008. I had gotten married a year earlier. I got a wild haircut and decided to take some classes to get my AA degree.
Here I was, a 40-something newlywed who apparently had nothing better to do with her spare time. Working full time, what was I thinking?
To be perfectly honest, I don't know what I was thinking.
When I graduated high school in the early '80s (OK, I just about gave away my age), I started going to court reporting school in Fresno. That lasted all of six months because I met a guy and we got married. So, 20-plus years and three kids later, my youngest is beginning high school, everyone is self-sufficient, and I guessed it was time I did something for me.
Think I'll go back to college.
I poke fun at my reasoning, but even during the almost 30 years between graduating from high school and starting back to college, I never stopped loving learning. In fact, I honestly don't think I loved it until after I had graduated from high school.
Over the years, I have taken classes in various computer programs for work: DOS, Word Perfect, Dbase and Lotus. Then I taught myself Windows, Word and Excel.
When I wasn't learning things for the job, I was taking other classes -- a voice class with my mom and an accounting class with my then-mother-in-law and numerous Bible study classes.
I've taken a few craft classes and have become an avid scrapbooker.
But this journey I embarked on three years ago has been, I think, my greatest success. Oh, there have been times when I wanted to quit. "I can finish this later," I would think to myself.
Yeah, right. How much later? Thirty more years? No, I made it a goal to finish, and now I am in the last leg of this long, cross-country race.
Maybe some of the melancholy I feel right now is because I'm coming down from the holiday high. But I don't think that's entirely it. This final semester is going to be more stressful for me, I think, than any I have had so far.
I have to pass MATH-C -- and math has never been my strong suit. I am an English, spelling and grammar girl all the way. But I have to say that I have had fun learning this "new" math.
I can still hear my 17-year-old after I have asked for help the umpteenth time: "Oh, mom, this is so easy." Bless her though, she would help me, and I passed MATH-A with a B.
In these last three years, that has only been my second B; I have carried a 3.9 GPA. This alone is different from junior high and high school where I was a C average and didn't care.
I've learned a lot on this journey. I learned more than I expected to learn. I expected to learn the academics. My major is administrative office management, so I expected to learn how to be a better administrative assistant, and I have already brought what I've learned into my job.
But I learned some unexpected things as well. I learned about different cultures, cultures that exist right here in my hometown. I learned that I was a good writer. Something that I knew I enjoyed doing, but didn't know until this journey that I had the talent.
So I may be harboring feelings of melancholy but there are other emotions afloat as well. Emotions of excitement and anxiety for what lies ahead, relief for the accomplishment of my goal and some emptiness when I think "whatever will I do to fill all this time previously taken up by homework."
Now that I know I can write, I think that is the answer. I will write.
Kristi Wolf is a full-time secretary and student at Merced College, majoring in administrative office management, with aspirations of being a writer.