Annaesia had just started her first semester of college when her mother passed away. The unexpected loss was so overwhelming that she just stopped attending class and went to live with an aunt in another state for a year. She felt her life was over, that she had lost her “spark,” and although she eventually found a job, she could not even think about school.
In the meantime, Annaesia’s younger sister was finishing high school and considering the army. Annaesia disapproved and felt strongly that she should attend college instead, but her sister pushed back because Annaesia herself wasn’t enrolled. She recalls, “It just really got me started thinking about the direction of my life . . . [and how] to mentor my sister to do the right thing.” But Annaesia was unsure about how to return to college after a two-year absence.
Annaesia was fortunate that her sister had access to a guidance counselor who could answer questions and advise on the financial aid process. “That high school resource really helped. [It was] much easier than doing it on my own after being away.”
As she learned to ask for help, Annaesia realized that she wasn’t expected to know everything and that there were counselors ready to lend assistance at her college as well. “I was always taught no one’s going to help you unless you help yourself. But it was quite the contrary . . . you just have to go and get help and overcome that [intimidation].”
Her school even offers a class specifically designed to help students get used to college life after time away, which she has found very helpful.
After re-enrolling, Annaesia decided to ease back into college by taking general-education requirements. “If there was a class that I fell in love with along the way,” she decided, “I would try to tailor my major around that.” She discovered she has a way with numbers and an interest in math and economics, so she has chosen to major in accounting.
Annaesia credits college with playing a huge role in how well she’s doing overall. She’s enjoying the success that’s come with her hard work and perfect attendance, including straight A’s. “It’s easy for people to go down the wrong path . . . education really helped me find myself.” She plans to transfer to a four-year college with a large campus. And while the size is a little frightening, she hopes it also means there will be more support available.
Returning to school has completely transformed Annaesia’s outlook. She now describes herself as dedicated, adding “I’m ready to get out there and show the world what I can do.”