"I love being able to work at my own pace, and I enjoy the fact that I have all my resources at my fingertips."
I came to SNHU’s online program in January 2014 after spending three semesters traveling an hour and a half (each way) to get to class at state university every day. I hated that drive with an unrelenting passion, and I am so happy my new commute is from my bedroom to my living room.
SNHU is not my first school, though. At my first school I worked on their football team as an equipment manager, and got to experience all the highs and lows of college football at its highest level. My first couple of years there was one of my favorite times of my life. But my academics faltered. I was 2,000 miles away from my family and the people I grew up with, the people who pushed me to do better and got on me whenever I veered off track. By the beginning of 2009 I had been kicked out of school, twice. I had no clue what to do. I felt like a failure. People lost faith in me, and I felt alone.
My journey to become who I am started there. I enrolled at community college. One day I heard about the Walt Disney World college internship program. Had I gone upstairs or stopped to read the paper, I would have missed it. I spent a week wrestling with whether or not I should apply. I didn’t want to leave my friends, but I had to do something. I was Odysseus on an island, and Disney was my life raft. My dad flew out from Cape Cod, and he and I drove to Florida. For the last six months of 2009 I worked custodial in Magic Kingdom – the best job in the park. I spent the majority of my day talking to guests and making kids laugh. One night, after skipping down Frontierland with a family in a rainstorm, I was standing on the bridge that connects the park to Splash Mountain, broom and pail in hand, watching the night’s parade. After a moment or two of scanning the families around me, it hit me: I wanted to be able to evoke the type of emotions I saw on a day-to-day basis there, in my writing. I wanted to tell the stories of the people who worked so hard to get there.
I made a plan. I was going to find a way to write for a living and get my degree. I reenrolled at the community college and joined the student newspaper as a staff reporter. At the end of my second semester, I was picked as editor-in-chief. My luck was starting to change, and I was writing constantly. I also found out that actually going to class does wonders for a guy’s grade point average.
In September of 2011 I woke up to a message on my phone from an old friend, who had experienced a tragedy. The local media falsely misrepresented the story, claiming her fiancé had been wrongfully involved. So I wrote her account of the story and took it to a local television affiliate. The experience reinforced the type of journalist and writer I wanted to be. Together, my friend and I created a Facebook page, “Remembering Homicide Victims,” which now has more than 3,600 likes.
I came back home. After spending the last year consoling people who’d lost those closest to them, I realized spending three hours a day in a car wasn’t helping that any. So I made a change. I love writing, and I am so happy that the creative writing and English program at SNHU lets me write. So many other English programs I’ve been a part of have focused more on reading rather than writing. And while I love reading, I didn’t feel being able to explain “The Faerie Queen” was necessarily helping me develop plot structures in my own writing.
The format of the classes is another plus for me. I love being able to work at my own pace, and I enjoy the fact that I have all my resources at my fingertips. I don’t have to go to three different departments to fix a simple problem, and I don’t have to sit in an uncomfortable chair in a forced-to-be-quiet library if I want to study. Everything is on my own terms. That type of atmosphere works for me.
The best thing about SNHU though has been how welcoming everyone is on a regular basis. I think I was won over the first time I got a thank you card from my advisor. It was a simple gesture, but it made me feel welcome. Another thing I love is how quickly I get notes back on things I’m working on, and how my instructors are really helpful whenever I have a question. One of the cooler things was being retweeted by SNHU, and thanked for sharing my story.
If I’ve learned anything about success or failure, it is to take whatever comes at you with a sense of equilibrium: Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. When I was unable to get back into my first school, I could have easily imploded at the failure. But with every failure comes a new opportunity for success. One more thing: I would not be at SNHU without my parents. So long as I’m in school, they’ve gotten my room and board, and that has been so helpful.
I really enjoying studying with this university, and I hope it will allow me the foundation to do and write good things in my future. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.