Christine Donatello

BA History, Class of 2015

"Dreams only die if we let them. My finish line is finally in sight, and that's all that matters."

Going back to college to achieve my BA in History has always been a dream of mine. When I initially left college back in 2000, I was very close to earning it, and I've always longed to finish what I started. Finally, an opportunity arose that allowed me to go back to school. You can only imagine my excitement when I realized that my dream was finally going to become reality.

My husband, having always strongly supported my dream of returning to school, researched SNHU and encouraged me to apply as an online student. I did and was accepted. I registered for my first class, then another, and then another after that with the successful completion of each term. I was on a roll, and I felt that nothing could stop me.

Unfortunately, an unexpected event occurred that changed everything. In 2013, I was injured in an automobile accident, and in a moment, life as I knew it screeched to a halt. Suddenly, at only 36 years old, I was plagued with a myriad of health problems. Being unable to work, I now found myself on disability. Doctor visits, which only happened in rare times of sickness before the accident, were now occurring on a weekly basis. Blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, consultations, physical therapy and more filled my days, and regrettably, college had to be put on the back burner for many months. My dream of graduating was once again put on hold.

During this time, Torrey Walker (my advisor) stayed in touch with me, letting me know that I could always register again when I felt ready. As the months went on, the health problems were still there, but I was becoming used to them and felt as though I could ease myself back into college work. I registered for one online class, and even though I knew I had an outpatient surgery coming up (to repair damage caused by the accident), I told both Torrey and my would-be professor about it, and they were happy to accommodate me.

As I prepared for the surgery, however, it became clear that I faced something much more grim. A very serious heart condition was discovered during the pre-op process. An ablation (along with an overnight hospital stay) was swiftly scheduled for me, and suddenly my simple outpatient surgery changed into something much more complicated. Having already started the class, I was determined to finish it. Dropping out was not an option, and my professor worked with me, so I could complete the course. And now, I am happy to report I have made it through the ablation process successfully, and am still keeping up with my coursework. Graduation occurs for me in 2015.

I'm a New Jersey resident, but I'm determined to make the trip up to New Hampshire with my husband and children to walk in the ceremony next year. I want to show my young son and daughter that just because a dream is deferred, it doesn't mean that it has lost its value and should no longer be achieved.

Yes, many people earn their undergraduate degree in four years. Mine has taken 20. Yet the length of time doesn't impact me, because I know that success isn't defined by how quickly a goal is achieved. Success is reaching that goal regardless of how long it takes or what obstacles life throws our way. Dreams only die if we let them. My finish line is finally in sight, and that's all that matters.