The following essay was submitted by Janice Spencer as part of our #Write2Win Contest. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she’s won a prize and we’re reposting it here.

Adult students in a computer labWith every challenge we meet in life, education is a key flotation device we can all use to better ourselves. Family can tell us we will do “great” but confidence is not always there when it’s been tucked away in the journey of our life. Opening a book and trying to remember how to study its contents is overpowering and challenges our memory synapse. How we can overcome this stress and developing the skills to write is a ladder we haven’t climbed in many years. We, as non-traditional students, are now the learner and it is a tough hill to climb.

I throw on my back pack, filled with rented books, pencils with no chew marks (yet) and bright white sneakers. I am heading back to school after 30 years of absenteeism. I am nervous and wonder if I can do this. I run into the classroom, late from leaving work, and thinking the professor is going to give me a rough time for being late on the first day. I come rolling in apologetic and interrupt his lecture. I get the look I thought I would get and find my seat in the back of the room. Not a good start for my new beginning. That was four years ago.

Once organized, we find our paths and placement in college. It is an amazing experience to meet and speak with young minds and develop the class together. My professors enjoyed my “older” prospective of the materials and I enjoyed their notes written on my returned papers.

As I reach the twilight of my college career and look forward to the cap and gown moment next year, I know the long nights of studying, blogs and discussion boards and learning from students so much younger than I, I feel honored and proud. This is the end of my education for this degree but I know, my paths are opening up and the fork in the road is there for me to pick up and taste the sweetness of knowledge.