The Challenges of Being a Returning Student

by: Erika Brooks Special to the AFRO
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I had a moment of reflection one August afternoon in 2015, when I realized I wasn’t happy where I was in my life. I am a 36-year-old who stopped being happy because I wasn’t satisfied with my current job because of the goals I set for myself.

I am grateful that I have a job however, I am now at a place in my life in which I need to focus on my career choice.  I have been at the Baltimore City Office of Child Support for six years and I am now ready to build a career in the field of journalism.

I always had a passion for writing and I knew that someday I would find my way to the field of journalism. I became a student at Morgan State University in 2001 and due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to leave the university in 2003. Previously, I majored in English with a minor in journalism. When I returned to finish my degree in 2015, I decided to finish what I started, a degree in journalism.

Due to changes in the curriculum I would need more courses and another year to earn a degree in journalism. This was frustrating because I felt I didn’t have the time to complete the requirements because I work full-time and am a mother of two as well as a wife.

The majority of my coursework takes place on campus which means I need to alter my work schedule. My supervisor allows me to leave work early to attend classes and in exchange I work longer hours on other days. While my hours are long so far I have managed to maintain good grades.

My other dilemma was fitting in an internship that would work around my schedule. Because I have a full time job finding an accommodating internship was difficult. Amazingly, I was able to secure an internship with the AFRO. With the career path I have chosen, an internship is often the best way to break into the field.

Journalism is a field that is currently in turmoil with many news publications cutting workers and hiring less due to the shift to the world of online. For example, Baltimore’s City Paper on July 7 announced that it will be closing later this year.

It is almost impossible to get a job and I think that this aspect is the most frustrating, learning how to take on so much while not having enough time in the day. Being a mother, wife and student remain a challenge but are rewarding. My children and I sit at the table while doing our homework together because I want them to know the value of education and how far it can take you.

I want them to see how hard I’ve worked to reach my goals even though I took a break from college.  When I first started Morgan I was child free, single and not ready. My GPA wasn’t great and I wasn’t focused.

Now, I know what I want in life and I understand the true meaning of working hard. It almost seems as if I needed the rigorous schedule to really appreciate this journey. My husband has been my rock as well as my greatest support system. If it wasn’t for him, this journey would be much harder. I am grateful to have such a support system.

I will continue to strive and focus on reaching my graduation date, May 2018. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Erika Brooks is an intern in the Baltimore office of the AFRO-American Newspaper.

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