"How My Community College
Has Changed My Life"

By Jennifer Gould, College of Lake County
Honorable Mention, 2001 Paul Simon Student Essay

In 1972, my mother began her college career at the College of Lake County. She had a dream of becoming more than just a wife and mother. She worked hard to achieve that goal. At that time, my community college changed my life by helping my mother grow into a more vibrant, focused and determined woman.

Throughout my childhood, my dream was to become a wife and mother. I never imagined that I would want more than that. When I became a wife and mother, I started to realize that my dream wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I felt trapped and isolated. I began to see that I needed to look outside myself to find meaning for my life. I needed to look beyond my husband and children. They are an important part of who I am, but there is so much more.

Nearly 30 years later, my community college has changed my life once again. I have become a more vibrant, focused and determined woman. The College of Lake County has given me the opportunity to explore options that I never knew were available to me. The college has given knowledge, possibilities and freedom I never imagined before.

I am working towards a degree in elementary education. I hope to show children that there is a world outside their doors that they might never have envisioned. I want to show them the many possibilities that are available to them They can be doctors, lawyers, teachers, or even stay-at-home parents, and be valued. I want them to discover that school is exciting and learning is wonderful. I didn't believe that myself until I came to the campus and saw teachers excited about teaching, and students delighted about learning.

I know that I have learned more in the last four semesters than I learned in the last 10 years of my life. I have met teachers and fellow students who have enriched my life greatly. My algebra instructor showed respect and courtesy to every person that walked in his door. My sociology teacher taught me that all opinions have value. From the young girl in my geometry class, I learned that all people struggle. I look forward to getting more head knowledge at the College of Lake County, but I especially look forward to getting more heart knowledge.

As I attend my classes at the College of Lake County, I remember the years my mother came here. I work hard to do well, and I remember how hard she worked. I am filled with joy as I get closer to my goal. I remember her joy when she graduated. My mother's community college has become my community college and has changed my life for the better -- not just once but twice.

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Illinois Community College Trustees Association
401 E. Capitol Ave., Suite 200
Springfield, IL 62701-1711
217-528-2858 (phone)
217-528-8662 (fax)
ICCTA@communitycolleges.org (e-mail)

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