B.A. Scott, M.A.?
I am currently in my final semester of a Master’s Degree. That in and of itself, is a miracle, and I am so thankful for that. I wrote last week about things that I was thankful for and that attitude of thankfulness is continued this week in regards to academics.
My story of academia is one that I hope can be a light to someone who needs it. My earliest memories of school were ok. They weren’t really good or bad, it was just school. I had really good teachers in grades 1-4 (shout out to Mrs. Vaughn, Mrs. Woodard, Ms. Heerspink, Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Steele). I was a good student, I always scored well (except for penmanship, my handwriting just sucks. Whatever.), but I never really felt challenged. It wasn’t that these teachers weren’t good, I just thought differently. I always felt like I was a year or so ahead, and so the concepts that my peers were struggling with, I didn’t. I would just sit in class, fall asleep, or play around to pass the time. In hindsight, I wish that I would have spoken up about it, and maybe I could’ve skipped a grade or 2.
When I got to fifth grade, everything changed. I remember the first day of school walking into the classroom, and my teacher looking at me and saying to find a seat in the back. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to sit in the back, every kid does, it was more the way she said it. It was as if she had already written me off. She was a newer teacher, and she had personal things that she was dealing with, and unfortunately, it spilled over into the classroom. It was just odd. I remember that there was another black kid in my class, and then he wasn’t anymore. He was my only real friend. Our parents got along, and he was the only kid that could come over without asking first (you know, when you both walk to the car, and say, “hey mom, its cool if he comes right?”). I remember being at his house once, and overhearing his parents talking about how they felt the teacher was singling him out because of race. I had thought about it, but I always thought that I was crazy for it. Honestly, I would never bring it up to my parents because I wasn’t sure how they would take it. I went to a school that was a part of a company that both of my parents worked for. I honestly don’t think that they would have been able to do anything due to where they were at. It’s all good. Anyway, that year was terrible. Because I felt out of place, and I felt targeted, I started to give them something to talk about. Me and this teacher would go back and forth, I started talking slick, and I honestly couldn’t care about the authority. I got suspended for the first time this year, and that’s just how the year went. I was still smart, so my grades didn’t really suffer (I think I got a B- that year), but it was the 2nd worst year of my schooling.
Middle school sucks for everyone. It just does. There are physical, emotional, and psychological changes that are happening, and no one really knows how to handle it. Puberty sucked. I remember my voice changing, and I thought I wouldn’t sing again, I remember starting to look at girls differently, and my body reacting to these girls in ways I didn’t understand. I started growing hair in places that there wasn’t before, and all those weird things. My emotions started to go nuts. I started feeling what I thought love was (I had a girlfriend from kindergarten until 5th grade, and that was real love though. our moms worked together, and we shared initials so we always had to sit together bc everything was in alphabetical order. it was real). Anyway, middle school sucked. Middle school was a difficult time for me personally, and that turmoil spilled into my schooling. I often felt as though what I was feeling on the inside didn’t match what was on the outside. I was raised in a family where I was taught to think like an adult from early life. Being a middle schooler, but having an adult mind (or so I felt), was a difficult time. Things were always rough, but eighth grade was the most difficult. As I was moving through puberty, my body was making changes that I was not comfortable with. I felt embarrassed about it, and could not find anyone to talk to. Having all that information, school was a difficult. I would act out in class, I was disrespectful, and I used intellect in order to have my way with the teachers that I was in contact with. I would engage in debates with teachers on a variety of issues, and when the teacher would get tired of arguing, I was kicked out of class. I felt like I won. Winning wasn’t enough. The basis for why I acted was wanting to belong, and wanting to feel a part of this community. Unfortunately, I never received that. Being the only child who looked like me, talked like me, dressed like me, and had this black experience was tough. Of course, I had family, but family wasn’t there for me during the school day. So I continued to act in ways that made me feel something. As the year progressed, the situations became worse and worse, until I was eventually kicked out of the school. That day was the most liberating day for me. I felt like that the nightmare was over, and that I could start over somewhere. While I don’t blame the school that I attended for all of the issues, I do believe that if we are to look at this situation fairly, that both myself and the school hold blame. I do blame those in positions of leadership who scoffed at the fact that there were teachers who held prejudices, and acted on them. I do blame them for listening to children who would make up in their minds to place blame at one person, and not look at the entire scope of things. I do blame that school counselor who said that I would never be more than a statistic. Other than that though, we can agree that all around it was a terrible experience.
High school wasn’t bad academically, but there was so much that went on back then. I will share that story in another post. I am not sure how I will, but in time, it will come.
My whole life, all I wanted to do was be a UNC ball player. I idolized Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Ed Cota, and all the other UNC greats that I watched. I played ball growing up, but it wasn’t something that I gave the dedication to I should have. I was good, not great. Really my game was just inconsistent. Back then, there weren’t players who were good at just one thing like there are today. For example, I was a good shooter, I still am. My handles sucked, they still do. So playing college basketball at Carolina wasn’t going to happen. However, I had some local connections, so playing ball at Liberty could be a thing. D1 is D1 no matter how you slice it. So I decided to go to LU for college. In my mind, I would practice everyday, get in really good shape, put on 40 lbs., and ball would be life. Nope. So instead, I rehabbed a torn meniscus, and sulked at the fact that my basketball dreams were over. Awesome. I was not ready for college. For all those years that I felt ahead of the curve in the books, I was so behind. The first years were rough. I was barely making Bs and Cs, and I was trying. I changed my major 3 times to try and find where I wanted to be, and nothing stuck. I was tired of trying to be honest, so I gave up. I would go to class here and there, but nothing worked. I was too busy partying every weekend, and doing other things I had no business during the week to worry about it. I got to year 3, and decided to make changes. Earlier that year, I had rededicated my life to God, and I was even on a ministry team. I was singing on weekends, and we had an academic requirement in order to travel. With that, I had to keep my grades up. Everything was going well. Since I was such an idiot my first years in undergrad, I had to do the 5-year path. Year 5 was hard. I was ready to be done with school, and still wasn’t, I was in a relationship where I felt like I wasn’t being supported, which didn’t help, and so every day was a battle. I worked full-time in management, and so many times I didn’t really see the purpose of even being in school. It wasn’t paying my bills, it wasn’t making me happy, so I just stopped. Little did I actually know that I had finished, I just didn’t care so I didn’t check into it. Fast forward some years, and I end up coming back to work at Liberty. While working there, I started to research what it would take for me to confer the degree. I saw that all I needed was an application to graduate, and to confirm some Christian Service hours. Bet. I thought about it though, and I said to myself, why not go back, and retake some of these classes, since my job would pay for it, and get better scores. So I did that. I took 4 classes, and got all As. I felt smart again. I felt ahead of the curve, and with that, I told myself that I would give a Master’s degree a try. Going in, I had no idea what would happen. I really didn’t. I knew that I could do it, but would it stick. I guess we would see. I remember posting on my IG about starting the program, and how excited I was. I said “So this might get long and sappy but 1. I need a brain break today and 2. God is too good not to talk about it. This is the realization of a dream that I had been putting off for a while out of fear, frustration and just plain apathy. I received a BS from LU by the grace of God and wasn't really passionate about it. I basically just finished the program I has started because I had started it and my heart was never really in it. Over the years I have tried to find my purpose, my place in this world to walk out. Through trial and many errors along the way, I have settled into who I am as a man, a believer and a human. I love people and this love for people goes deeper than "hellos". It is something that keeps me up at night sometimes. It's in my dreams. I have tried and failed to avoid it but my heart goes out to families and kids trying to figure this thing called life out. I don't have all of the answers and I promise I don't think I ever will but I'm going to try. Try to make a difference, try to be the best man that I can be and try to lead an example of a life that is pleasing to God. So keep me prayed up. If you know me, you know I hate school. These papers are not going to write themselves and I need help to keep me accountable. I believe with all of my heart that I am exactly where God wants me to be and in the program that will open the door to the next chapter of his perfect plan for my life. So thanks God for showing me the way and please grace me so I don't mess it up. I'm a graduate student. WHAT?!?” That day was so exciting for me. I was doing it. Now to the present…
This program has been very rewarding for me. Not just through academics, but personally. It has been a constant reminder to me of how gifted I am, and how good God is. I have learned much about myself, and learned what it means to truly give your all to something. This program has opened so many doors for me personally, and I am excited about what the future entails. Thank you to all who have supported me along the way, and an even bigger thank you to those who doubted. You were the motivation I needed.
When I think about it all, my only question is why? Why me? I don't know the answer, and I may never, but I am grateful.