Adult Women Back In School!

Woman returning back to college at 40

Each of us has a divine inner purpose in life to become what we aspire to be and what dreams to achieve. When you’re a parent, it’s never too late to fulfill any dreams you have, whether it’s climbing Mount Everest, attending your first rock concert, or going back to school to get a college degree. I remember my son, Christopher’s 5th grade graduation as the class’s speaker of the day. As I sat there listening to him, I thought about how quickly he’s growing up, and pretty soon he would be headed off to middle school. I immediately thought about my own educational journey and how amazing it would be to go back to school.

Cut to the first day of orientation, I played out in my mind every scenario that would keep me from going back . I considered PTO committee meetings falling apart because I wasn’t there, missing parent volunteer lunch schedules for my daughter’s class and parent valet parking for morning drop-off. Over twenty different scenarios circled in my mind. Yet, finally in the end, I heard the voices of my family and girlfriends who are also mothers encouraging me, “You can do this!” I recall a Beyoncé moment in that orientation. Her song, “Who Runs the World” played in my head and then I knew I was ready.

Ientered through the doors of my school and noticed my son’s school motto engraved on the walls — “Through these portals pass the greatest learners in the world.” I thought about the women in my life who have overcame huge obstacles just to walk through the doors of a college. I thought about my friend Mireya, a mother, an advocate for special needs children and how determined she was to earn her bachelor's degree. I thought of my sister, who despite her obstacles with her health, continuously pressed through to earn her associate degree. I thought of my good friend Cheryl who is a leader in her community and has paved the way to become a shining example of what challenging work and determination looks like as the only woman of color within her company. I am surrounded by women who have defied the odds as mothers, aunts, advocates returning to school to pursue their dreams of a college education. I must admit you will have butterflies in your stomach about what you are doing there but remember your dreams will only flourish once you plant the seeds of change.

Recently we watched the supreme court hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Ketanji is an American attorney and jurist who has served as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2021. The strides this amazing woman of color made to pursue her education and career and be a wife and mother only proves that we as women can achieve if only, we believe and push forward toward the goal. Women need examples of encouraging women to inspire, empower and help them comprehend that any and everything is possible with hard work and determination. I remember working for the employment development department as a youth representative and recall a young woman who was the mother of four children and expecting her 5th, working as a social worker and parenting her 15-year-old son while distributing jobs. This superwoman was a shining example of a strong-willed woman that did not allow her pregnancy to discourage her at all. I walked up to her to ask if she needed help and she said no, at the same time thanking me, I noticed she was reviewing her syllabus for her master’s program which had me amazed.

Although the obstacles of returning back to school may seem challenging such as recognizing new college terms, jargons, and learning how to check your schedule. Staying up late to make sure that assignment or online discussions go through before midnight, these things will help you see the value in pursuing your education. Each day of my journey, I would ask for help, I would sit at the table with my children and do homework with them. I remember my own children encouraging me by saying “Mom, no excuses. concentrate.” I continued do my homework at the dinner table with my children until I blinked, and four years had passed by. I watched myself completing my degree application in preparation to walk across the stage to grab my degree.

Society highlights our youth for culminating from elementary, middle, and high school but to acknowledge the single working parent, a mom or dad is a testament of sheer determination. Determination a word described as a firmness of purpose. According to a study taken by CDC suggest that 10% of adults are returning to school to get their degree to climb up the corporate ladder or pursue their degree of interest.

The journey toward achieving educational success at any age or stage in your life as a working parent can be challenging but with a positive support system and amazing people surrounding you, the sky is the limit. Walking down that graduation isle and hearing my full name announced , I looked out into the audience and saw those same amazing women screaming out my name and cheering me on. I proudly whispered to myself, “Not bad for a mom of four.” Though easier said than done, I passionately believe, if you believe it, you can achieve it no matter your age, gender, family roles as mom or dad; anything is possible. It was Langston Hughes who said, “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”



Author of I’m A Little Big Brother 2016 editor’s choice LA Parent Magazine for Entering the World of Oz with Justin Author of poem To All the mothers!

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Meshell Baylor

Author of I’m A Little Big Brother 2016 editor’s choice LA Parent Magazine for Entering the World of Oz with Justin Author of poem To All the mothers!