Attending Community College Doesn't Make Me Any Less Of A Student

Attending Community College Doesn't Make Me Any Less Of A Student

Leaving my 4-year university was heartbreaking to go through, but I have grown and learned so much since then and I have community college to thank for that.

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Summer of 2017 I felt like my world turned upside down when I received some news. After a year of attending a 4-year university, I fell in love with it. I was having the time of my life with my sorority and the best friends I made there. Everyday was an adventure, but my priorities were all in the wrong place. I put all of my energy into my social life and my grades plummeted, resulting in me no longer being able to remain a student there.

The thought of attending community college at first was something I felt ashamed of. The kids at the high school I attended were caught up in the status of which college everyone was attending, and I felt a lot of pressure to attend a big school with lots of parties. Losing the school I was at was difficult for me to accept at first, and I was down in the dumps about it for a long time.

Once I was enrolled at a community college and attended classes, I went into it with an open mind. I decided to make the most out of my situation and use this as an opportunity to make a change. As classes went on, I noticed how much more focused I was, there were very few distractions. I was much more motivated to study and do well, which was new for me. The feeling of being a successful student was very rewarding and put things in perspective.

Something that stands out to me about community college are my professors. At the large school I previously attended, there were very few professors that I felt supported by and felt like that they genuinely wanted their students to succeed. At community college I feel the complete opposite energy from my professors. They want their students to do well and make an effort to know them.

My community college professors make the classes challenging without setting their students up to fail. Unlike some may assume, they do not coddle their students and make things too easy. They support their students and want them to thrive, which personally to me makes a way better academic environment to be in. Community college is no easier than any larger school, it is just structured differently. Also, these schools do not have a lower quality of education or less resources than large 4-year universities. For example, my community college has a cadaver lab which is something that even many large schools do not have!

Just because you attend a large school and I do not, does not make you superior to me. It does not make you smarter or a harder worker than me. Assuming these things or looking down on community college students, in my opinion, makes you not only close minded but immature. Something that I admire about my community college is the student diversity. I have met students from so many different backgrounds, and this has changed my perspective on not just education but life itself.

I appreciate these experiences and these are things that I could not get out of a big university when I was there. Although there were many positive aspects of the other school I attended, there are just as many where I am at now! Neither students at these types of colleges are superior to the other. I respect those who agree with me and keep an open mind about community college.

If you are considering attending a community college, I highly encourage it. Not only is it a safe and smart financial decision, but it will open your eyes to what the world is like for people that are different than you. I have met so many genuine and hard working people from all sorts of backgrounds at my school. I think community college is the perfect opportunity to grow and mature before putting yourself into a completely new environment without your family when you may not be ready for it, just like I was not.

Labels are irrelevant because both types of students work just as hard as the other. Afterall, we all will end up in the same place one day. Attending community college is not something to be ashamed of. Being a community college student does not make you inferior to anyone else and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You are receiving a different experience than others, embrace that!

Here is one of my favorite quotes that sticks with me everyday: "just because my path is different doesn't mean I'm lost." -Gerard Abrams. I am so grateful for not only my friends and family that support me and cheer me on in my academic performance, but my professors that have and do as well.

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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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It's Time To Own Up To Loving the Things You Love

I, Emily Sharp, love Doctor Who and Roy Cohn.

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Recently, I've been revisiting an idea that I wrote about a little over a year ago. After working amongst some unbelievable people in the YA and kids publishing world, I "began to mentally paint myself, my loves, and my fellow fangirls in a new light." And it's true! I did. But then I also stopped doing that and resigned myself to "fangirl," or get excited about things I loved, only in private.

I regret once more falling prey to this concept that girls are instantly cooler when they hide their unabashed excitement for things, or that they're quirky fun when they let slip one thing they're secretly crazy about. In an age that is slowly, hesitantly (but still) growing more accepting of women who don't fit into easy boxes (where might that unfathomable idea have even come from??), I think it's critical to be genuine and truthful as frequently as possible.

With that said, I'd like to take this time with you all here now to make a proclamation re: what brought me back to this concept of pride in our obsessions:

I, Emily Sharp, love Doctor Who and Roy Cohn.

Now I know my demographic of readers: either you're friends with my mom or you're friends with me, which means you didn't realize Doctor Who was still a thing or you've never heard of Roy Cohn unless it was out of my mouth. Don't worry, though; I'm clearly going to break this all down.

Remember Trump's lawyer I wrote a whole article about? He's my thesis now; feel old yet?

Towards the end of last semester, I did a project on the Lavender Scare in the 1950's which loosely involved Senator Joseph McCarthy and his lawyer/evil henchman Roy Cohn. Fascinated in equal parts by how little I had ever heard of Cohn and how bizarre and paradoxical this man was, I continued to do my own research on him well through the summer. When I first started this once aimless project, I told everybody I knew because I was so jazzed up to talk about My New Favorite Villain. But soon, I grew convinced that everyone would think I was crazy if I told them I was light to mildly obsessed with someone like Cohn, so much so that I would consider doing proper academic work regarding him and his life. So I stopped.

That brings us to now, now meaning when I have to start deciding what my time at Emory was really all leading to and pick a topic for my thesis. Despite being months and moons away from Atlanta and notion of the hard work this will entail, I met with my advisor, a very lovely man who very likely thinks I'm very crazy, to discuss potential topics. My first couple of ideas really weren't growing anywhere and I started thinking (or the ghost of Roy Cohn started telling me) to just say it.

Here comes that apologizing/concealing/secret desire bug again: I was so hesitant to tell my advisor that I had even thought about doing work on Cohn because of what I (incorrectly) thought he would think of me. I also set it up in a way that prompted him to say no to the idea, slightly denying myself the opportunity for a yes even before I asked the question. But as soon as I told him my ideal plan (with the slightly maniac excitement I have about it), it was clear that we had a winner.

To be fair, this could all backfire and I could end up with an entirely new topic. But when I was a junior in high school and writing my first formal research paper, I was also told that maybe my topic was too complicated or hard to research. While it's empowering to say I persevered and worked through adversity for the topic I wanted, I really was not interested in putting in so much work to study anything else, which is where I stand once more. I could take it easy, but why wouldn't I pursue something that doesn't get me this excited?

Since I've been in London, I've finished five TV shows (not bragging) and decided I needed a new obstacle to tackle: rewatching every episode of Doctor Who. Full disclosure: when I was in high school, I became obsessed with Doctor Who. Immediately after typing that, I felt the urge to say "but I'm not the stereotypical fan that comes to mind," as if liking something is the only thing that defines me as a person.

Unpopular opinion, but Christopher Eccleston was my personal favorite Doctor

I still hesitate telling anyone that didn't know me in high school about how much I love the show, especially as I try to make friends abroad, because I don't want to be labeled a certain way. No, if you saw me on the street you would not be able to guess that I have a Tardis notebook, that I was once active in the Doctor Who Tumblr community, or that I watched the entirety of season 7 in a night (not bragging).

But that's the beginning and end of it! Why should I apologize or be ashamed of the things I love? Why should anyone? Yes, the things we love are a part of us but they're not all of us. I'm not Emily, Doctor Who Fan, or Emily, Oddly Obsessed with Roy Cohn; I'm Emily who is a fan of Doctor Who and fascinated with Cohn's life and legacy, as well as the literature on him, and how it can be used to understand the post-WWII social and political climates in America. Or something like that I dunno really just a start.

I want to be genuinely me, and the only way to get there is to be honest about the things I love. We all love things we're too scared to share with other people, so why are we all hiding them? The things that we're passionate about are only a part of us; it's how we carry them and portray them that defines who we are.

Own it.

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