One step at a time even if it means starting with a tip toe.

Document created by jenniferhagerty on Nov 11, 2015
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After dropping out of High School in my sophomore year I was able to obtain a decent job and earn a living wage. How I have no idea. Luck? Faith? I don't know but it happened. I met my now husband and we started our family. To our surprise our oldest child was born with a rare genetic condition called Ectodermal Dysplasia. For him this meant a cleft lip and palate, heart problems, kidney problems, missing about 75% of his skin at birth, no sweat glands, an allergy to cold, dental challenges, feeding difficulties, and battling super bugs like MRSA. Our second child would be diagnosed with Autism. For us this meant a future of so many more challenges that we never planned on or imagined being possible. Medical bills mounted and we were drowning in debt. By the end our oldest son's first year of life we owed $482K for his care after our private health insurance denied his bills saying they were not for medically necessary hospital stays or for cosmetic procedures such as a cleft lip repair. When you have a child they don't come with a guide book. We listed to the doctors and did as we were told to save his life.

The medical debt was sold off to different collectors and our phones were ringing off the hook. We went in to survival mode and ended up filing bankruptcy because the reality was we would not eb able to pay the debt off anyother way.

I found myself wanting something more. Something better for our family. A place our boys could grow and thrive and enjoy life despite the challenges of their diagnosis. I knew I had to go back to school if we would ever be able to achieve the goals we had in mind. It would take both my husband and myself working. I started going to an adult education program to try and earn my diploma. Then our son was hospitalized for an infection and I ended up missing so much class that I was dropped from the program. So I found a GED program once he was better. Half way through my program funding was cut and they had to close the doors. I found yet another GED program and once I felt ready to take my test I signed up and paid the required fees. The morning of the test I showed up at the testing center to discover a note on the door saying "Due to a lack of sign ups the test has been cancelled." I was so discouraged. We relocated from California to Roseburg Oregon in November of 2014. I was on my way to a medical appointment and drove past The Woolley Center on Harvard. I saw the sign advertising GED classes and called as soon as I got home. I set up an appointment to register and would be starting the next GED class. This program was different. I felt motivated, encouraged, supported, and empowered. The teachers and staff genuinely cared about our success, my success, and wanted to see all of us do our best. I completed one term in the program and said I am going to run with it. I scheduled my first two tests at the testing center on campus at Umpqua Community College. Nailed emm! So I signed up for another term of GED classes in order to strengthen my abilities in the last two subjects. Three weeks in to the summer term I scheduled my second set of tests with the same testing center. I was so worried that I might not pass but I did. I DID IT! I finally got there! I walked out of the testing center and got to the corner by the book store and the tears filled my eyes. Happy tears! I finally achieved my first goal. If I could do that I knew I had to keep going. With only 5 weeks till Fall term started I was determined. I filled out my FAFSA and met with an advisor the following week. I registered for my first set of college classes after taking the compass test.

I had  people in my life who doubted my ability to be able to attend college and still meet the needs of my family. To them I said just watch me succeed. Here we are now in our seventh week of Fall term and it is flying by. Yes, it is a challenge to keep up with homework and still meet the needs of my family but I am doing it.

What I am trying to convey here is that no matter what challenges you face or hurdles you have to overcome you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Reach out to others and ask about resources like FAFSA, scholarships, $ALT, check with ASUCC about programs they offer, talk to your teachers, use the tutoring lab in the ESB, the possibilities are endless if you simply don't give up. You can overcome your challenges in order achieve your dreams one step at a time, even if it means tip toeing at first. YOU CAN DO IT!

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