I never thought I’d be one of those adults-who-went-back-to-school types. After getting my Bachelor’s, I got a job, got married, bought a house, had children, but all those “right steps” didn’t matter when I got divorced and started my life over again. I felt isolated and alone. Long hours and low pay at my job weren’t allowing me to spend the now limited time with my children. I had less income, but more expenses. I was ridiculed and discriminated against for needing government assistance.
My new roommates (children) eat all the food, leave all the lights on and certainly never pay the rent! But, they are the most wonderful people I’ve ever known and my motivation for changing my life and ultimately being happy with who I am every step of the way.
I spent a lot of time in court due to my divorce. A friend once asked, “Why don’t you go to law school?” I said, “I don’t want to be chained to my desk, logging 100 billable hours a week!” She mentioned becoming a paralegal … similar work but requires less education and usually normal business hours. That was Friday - on Monday I started classes at Madison College.
I was terrified! How insane was it to take classes, work full time and be a mother to my children? Would they forgive me? Would it really make a difference long-term? How could I take on so much when I felt like I was drowning as it was? But the pieces began to come together. Friends offered to watch the girls when I was in class, online and Saturday courses allowed me to prioritize my precious time with my girls.
I began looking for jobs before my first semester was over. I was offered an amazing opportunity with an estate planning law firm. Again, I had to ask myself, am I crazy? This job is even further away than the one I had and there wasn’t a big difference in pay. But I took it anyway.
My firm was extremely supportive of my efforts to finish school. They understood those times I needed to leave work early to get to class and I was able to complete my internship there.
Soon I was able to survive without State Assistance! We moved to an apartment just blocks away from work and my children’s school. This change gave me the ultimate gift of time. With no commute, I had extra hours to spend with my daughters, which any parent knows multiplies exponentially and equals about a million extra hugs and snuggles!
Furthering my education at Madison College was a catalyst for every aspect of my life as it is now, which is truly wonderful. I often doubted myself, but the universe supported my forward movement in ways I wouldn’t have imagined.
In the words of noted social scientist Dr. Brene Brown, "Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is bravest thing we'll ever do!"
-Submitted by Norma Kropp, Program Director, Paralegal Program, Madison Area Technical College