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  • Writer's pictureAnna Read

Chapter Complete: My College Undergrad Story

Today marks the close of an important chapter in my life. In 2008, in the height of the recession, I started college. I had no clue what I was getting myself into, I drove 45 mins each way to attend the community college I was attending, and I ran out of gas quite a few times during that first year. I worked at a mall nearby, and I was a hot mess.

For some reason, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to go to the most expensive private university in my state starting in 2010. I am thankful for that experience, because it did allow me to meet my husband (who worked at the help desk at the time), and gave me a few incredible friends. I was a fish out of water there though, and did not do well. The first couple of semesters I was just happy to have been accepted and "made it" on campus. I commuted every day, and I don't think I ever made it to a class on time. (YIKES!)

I pressed pause on Samford in 2012 and decided I needed to go back to working full time, and get my act together. Samford was SO expensive, and I was overwhelmed at how mch debt I was getting into. Note: these were some dark days. Every May, August, and December, I would see posts on social media from my friends who were graduating with their undergrad, masters or even doctorate. Although I was so proud of them, each time I would get this pang in my stomach, feeling sad and defeated, not knowing if I would ever have the time or money to finish my undergrad. I began working full time, and slowly but surely starting to get back on my feet. In 2015, I got married, and in 2016 I took a couple of classes online. I could now go to school for free due my husband working at Samford. Yay!

At the time (2016), Samford didn't have many or any online classes in what I needed. Another roadblock.

2017 came around and my husband got a new job at UAB. It was the right career move, and I was so proud of him. I would have to wait another year before I could start school again, if I got accepted due to UAB's policy for spouse tuition reimbursement.

I started UAB's Communications Studies program in 2018, still a little unsure how we'd come up with the other half of tutition, but knowing we'd figure it out. My husband is a rock star, by the way.

I logged on to UAB's portal to see how much we'd be responsible for paying in tuition and was stunned. My entire tuition was paid for! We'd later find out that was an error on UAB's part, that really really came in our favor. (Side Note: we thought tuition was being paid for in full because I was only taking 2 classes a semester and they pay for half of spousal tuition).

At the beginning of 2020, I got laid off from the start-up I was working at. This was also when UAB realized its error in paying for my full tuition.

Here I was again, 2 semesters away from graduation with another road block. I happened to be taking a class taught by one of the decision makers in the Communication Studies department. I told him my situation, out of defeat again at another hurdle to jump. I'll never forget what he did. He created a scholarship for me, and told me not to worry about a thing. I would graduate on time, he said. I was an incredible student, he said.

So today, I graduate from UAB with a B.A in Communication Studies/Communication Management with a 4.0. Can't believe this day is finally here.

I received the news in May that we would not be able to walk this summer. I knew that news was coming, but it still stung. I wanted to wear the cap and gown, and have my family yell for me when I walked across that stage. Don't worry, I'm going back for my masters, and I will totally walk then.

Although I am bummed I can't walk, I am so excited for today!! Today is my day. My day to post too many pictures, celebrate with my friends and family and enjoy the achievement I finally earned. I know that sounds pompous and that's not my intention.

But I do want to celebrate what today stands for and thank all the people who encouraged me along the way.Special shout out to my amazing husband, who is getting our house ready for guests as we speak. I couldn't have done any of this without you babe, I love you tons. Dr. Ankney, Dr. Milstead, and all of my professors at UAB, thank you for helping me cross the finish line. To my family, thank you for supporting me and believing in me, it means a lot.

It is never too late to finish what you started. I promise.

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