October 8th, 2008: I had been working at the foundry for almost seven years. What was once a booming factory setting with workers constantly in motion, now felt like I was clocking into a ghost town. Most of my co-workers had already been laid off, and those of us that weren’t, had our hours reduced to the bare minimum. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when my supervisor informed me at the end of the shift, that I had worked my last day. The fact that it was expected did not necessarily make it easier.
With the economy in a recession, and not having a college education, it was difficult to find any kind of employment. Having two young children at home, doing nothing was not an option. So I decided it was time to go back to school. I took advantage of the TAA program, which helped pay the education costs for workers in industries that were moving overseas.
At the time, my experience with computers wasn’t much more than checking my MySpace page. Programming seemed like an interesting, yet totally magical endeavor, and I was no magician. I was a little reluctant to take an entirely new path, when I could have chosen something in the trades that I might have known a little more about. But I wanted to maximize this opportunity, and that wasn’t going to happen by taking the “easy” way.
I started at West Shore Community College in January 2009, and my first class was “Introduction to Databases”. The professor started the class by having us all introduce ourselves and give a little bit of our tech background. One student stood up and told us how they had been programming since fourth grade. Another student said they had developed a computer virus for fun in their spare time. As I heard each of these stories, is started becoming abundantly clear that I was already way behind. These were the same people that I would be competing for jobs with when I graduated. After we were done with introductions, the professor asks us to log into our computer. I looked at the screen, then down at my keyboard, then back up at the screen. I couldn’t figure out how to log in. I was so embarrassed. I was just starting my first class on my first day, and I felt like the entire thing was a mistake, but there was no going back. Despite the little voice in my head telling me to give up, I did the only think I know how to do. Move forward.
I did everything I could to soak up any bit of information my professors were willing to give me. I took it one day at a time, and after two years, I earned my associate’s degree with a 3.97 GPA.
Most of my free time is spent with my family. I also volunteer as a coach in basketball, track and field, and poly-hockey for Michigan’s Area 24 Special Olympics. I am also honored to serve as the Assistant Area Director for Area 24.