February 24, 2024

Non-traditionals keep your heads up.


This archived article was written by: Christopher Palo

We’ve lived lives, we’ve had heart break and felt love that others dream of. At some point, we decided that what we had wasn’t good enough, that we were capable of more. We pulled ourselves out of the dreary lives we lead and shouted in the loudest voice we could muster, I am not done yet. So we rearrange our lives, make sacrifices and trudge forth, for we are fearless and will not be left behind in a life of mediocrity, we are the non-traditional students and this is our story.

Some of us did not graduate high school, some of us did. We entered the work force as soon as possible. Some of us took jobs at local restaurants or at local department stores, some joined the military and some tried their hands at being business owners, but we find ourselves in the same place.

We hold jobs, support families, keep households and fight to earn the coveted college degree, in hopes that it will improve our station in life.

When we look out across the classroom and see those young adults with their hip clothes and “devil may care” attitude, remember this, we have done more than they. We ascended the mountains of life and still claw for that ever-elusive American dream.
When they are partying and we are at home studying and taking care of the new baby we remember that many students don’t have the slightest clue what they are doing. They think that this is just something they are supposed to do. We know better. We amassed the knowledge to understand why we are here. Night after night, reading chapter after chapter, we strive for more, because we have seen the other side of the fence and don’t like it.

We have so much knowledge and experience that it makes us a force of nature. We have learned the secrets to life, the handy little short-cuts and tricks we use to get by. We are unstoppable. Our greatness is only hindered by our fear of success, because that is all we have left. There is no other option, but to succeed.

We need to take this ability we have to survive and apply it to school. We need not look at tests like some scary project we have to deal with on a Tuesday afternoon, but as a small hurdle that we completely destroy with our life experience.

Whenever we get down and ask ourselves if it is worth it. We must remember what we have been through, the late nights at the store, the horrible customers, or the far off battlefield where we lost too much. We must remember that this time it is us who will become great. It is us who will not falter in our endeavor to reach our goals. We will drive on. We will succeed because we are strong and we are worth it.

Take that knowledge and experience you gained and use it well. Help the person next to you. Take that young freshman by the hand and lead them to the path to success.

You are the philosophers and wise sages of campus. Your stories and advice are worth more than you know, share them, lend some insight to life to others. Be the role model that you never had, take that experience and wisdom and use it for good.