April 19th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
My Story of Hope
I grew up in a wonderful home with two wonderful, God-loving parents. My mother and father were very young when they married. I had many wonderful life experiences. However, growing up, the importance of education was not instilled.
I was married right out of high school. My son, Ian, followed shortly after. I did not have a life plan. When I was 21-years-old, my father, Robert Casarez, was called home to be with Jesus. My fathers’ life was short, but he made a huge impact for Christ. I was faced with the question: What did God want me to do with my life?
Obstacles I faced
I knew that God was calling me to be a teacher, but I did not know how to register for classes or how I was supposed to pay for those classes. I enrolled at the local community college, Mountain View Community College, when I was 21. God surrounded me with wonderful professors and unique learning experiences. I felt like I belonged there. I completed 37 hours my first year of college.
The following year, I transferred to Dallas Baptist University. Because I was married and had a family, I was considered a non-traditional student. Being an education major can be especially challenging for a non-traditional student. Most education classes were only offered during the day while my husband was at work, and any class I registered for had to be scheduled around my son. I had no one to watch him besides my husband and myself, but God always worked the scheduling out.
Towards the end of my degree plan, I worked two days a week at a child development center, making just enough money to have my son enrolled there. I was so upset when my advisor said that I would have to take mandatory classes during the same time I was supposed to be at work. I remember saying, “So, I either have to quit my job or quit school.”
My advisor, Mrs. Diana Garcia, got on the phone quickly, calling the financial aid office right then and there. She began asking them if there were any work study programs I might qualify for. By the end of that meeting, I was connected with a job at a local elementary school that paid twice as much as I was earning before – enough to keep my son enrolled at the child development center and then some!
My final year at DBU, I thought I had a clear path to graduation. With my son starting kindergarten that year, I thought I would have no problem taking all the classes I needed to graduate while he was at school. But there was one class that conflicted. My advisor volunteered to supervise my son so that I could go to class. On other days, my professor, Dr. King, used my son as an example in our class lectures. He would sit in our classroom, while Dr. King modeled lessons and strategies! She actually thanked me for having him there! I am so grateful for Dallas Baptist University beyond the first class education I was given. The staff at DBU took a personal interest in me. I felt like my advisor and professors were always cheering me on. They wanted me to finish the race.
My husband and I are currently pursuing master’s degrees in educational leadership at Dallas Baptist University. There are days that are very challenging, teaching full time and having two young children. Life truly is a balancing act sometimes. I want my children and students to know that they can do or be anything that they want to be. It seems like a cliché statement, but these words ring true in my heart and everyday life. I believe in myself and know that I can do all things through my Christ who strengthens me.
It is so important to connect with others who have achieved things that seem impossible. Right before I registered for my first graduate semester, I got a call from Dr. Gus Reyes. He spoke about looking past graduate school. If I had plans to pursue a Ph. D or Ed. D, I needed to ensure I was making good choices while pursuing my graduate degree. This had not occurred to me. After our conversation, I had a new vision, a post-graduate mind set.
Advice to students
Getting an education is an investment. It will be difficult at times, but it will pay off in the end. Going to college will change who you are, and that is okay. God will be working through you to make you the leader He needs you to be. And lastly, believe in yourself – you can do it!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Story by Krystle Casarez Gomez.