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After 14 years as a wife and stay-at-home mother of two, my decision to go to college surprised my family and friends. "What are you going to be?" they asked. My reply was simple: "I'm going to be in college – I don't know beyond that."
I’d always wanted to take college classes and the time finally seemed right. Our daughter and son were in the fourth and seventh grades, and I wanted to be ready to have a job and income to help when they went to college.
My secretarial job after high school had been OK, but I knew there must be something better for me. And my Fullerton College classes and instructors provided that direction. That first semester in spring 1978, I enrolled in two classes because they were favorite interests: Drawing 101 and American History. Being a student in my mid-30s surrounded by much younger students was a bit of a challenge. I’d been out of school for 18 years. They all seemed to know just what they were doing, and I was stumbling around trying to figure it all out – including parking, carrying all the notebooks and drawing pads, finding classrooms and locating the all-important coffee.
My first day in the history class, I scrambled to take notes on every word the instructor said or wrote on the board – and I continued doing that for several weeks, until I realized most of the material was in our textbook. I also discovered that the shorthand I hadn’t used in years was still in my brain and slowly became a great help taking notes on lectures.
Eventually, each semester it was easier to get through the classes, tackle the assignments and manage my life outside campus – as Girl Scout leader, soccer mom and housewife. After completing my A.A. in June 1980, I transferred to Cal State Long Beach in the Museum Studies program, with a goal of working as a writer, documenting exhibits and artists. I plugged away, continuing to take only a couple classes at a time till the last two semesters, when I realized that if I didn’t add more units our daughter now in college would finish before I did!
I received my B.A. in 1984 and completed the Museum Studies Credential the following year.
As a senior, an internship writing arts stories at the Daily News Tribune in Fullerton under a fantastic mentor and editor, Verna Lumbard, led to a new career goal of combining arts and journalism. Then story assignments in other areas turned my plans upside down, and I ended up with a 25 year career as a city reporter, then city editor and copy editor.
But it was that first day on the beautiful Fullerton College quad, with the flowering trees and a delightful sense of adventure that had started me on a wonderful path to find out "what I was going to be."