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If I am awarded a scholarship to realize my goal of becoming a special needs teacher it will change my whole world. The world of a middle-aged, working mother with two small children does not allow for much day dreaming. I am a very practical person. I am a practical nurse. It took a lot of grit to get this far.

At the ripe, old age of 28 I felt washed up and worn out. Waitressing at 24-hour pancake houses in a brown polyester skirted, orthopedic shoed, support hosed back braced, smile-through-the-pain-to-get-the-tip drudgery was all I knew ever since high school. It amounted to 10 years of rent and necessities paid with no benefits and no future. I had been told by an English teacher that my writing was so horrific that it was unrealistic to suggest that I should have a refresher course or even retake all of high school. Miss Green, you need to start over at grade school, she said. I had believed her and that is how my career in waitressing had started.

In 1995 after some supportive friends and family members told me that I was actually pretty smart, I started taking classes at the local junior college. I wanted to be a school teacher of children like the ones I had met while volunteering with the Special Olympics and the adults I had helped at Camp Swampy (a summer program in Arcadia for mental challenged adults). However, it was suggested to me that nurses were in high demand and becoming a nurse would take less time and academic skill. I was still unsure of my worthiness to be a teacher and lead a class full of little minds in learning. Also, the local hospital would pay tuitional reimbursement for nursing, so that decided it. I took a job as an in-house transporter at Sarasota Memorial and began nursing school.

After the collapse of my seven year marriage, the signing of huge student loans (just for the cost of living) and working two jobs around a full-time nursing program, I regrouped to stay afloat and opted for the cheaper, quicker licensed practical nursing program.

In September I will be 41 years old; my kids are 3 and 5. I am a darn good nurse but not the teacher I had dreamed of being. I still am paying that student loan and the academic credits earned I bound-up into a psychology associates degree so that they arent wasted. I have taken classes here and there for my bachelors of human development but after my first born came and my husband was laid off from work the first time, all that stopped. With my husband laid off again, now, and the debt piling up, it seems that was a pipe dream.

Online courses would make it all possible: I could work full-time and study at night, I could confer with class mates on the internet and I could go at my own pace. I need feed-back to know if Im headed in the right direction. My brother to online courses and his professor sent detailed critiques of his assignment and suggestions for his reasearch. He loved it and it did not interfere with his working hours as a paramedic.

If I was awarded the scholarship so that I could pay for school it would change my whole world. Not just when I finish and can do the work I feel has always been my calling; all along the way would be better. I love to learn and I miss taking courses. My kids and I are always pulling slimy stuff out from under rocks and gathering cocoons to observe together. The completion of my education would be a great example for both my children (and I would be only the second person in my extended family with this distinction). I learn so much through them and have the joy of teaching them at each opportunity but without adult academic stimulation, I am afraid some of my mental skills are wasting away. Beyond that, even if I was too die before receiving my masters degree, I had all that hope, that promise to hold on to until then. (I dont think Ill be kicking the bucket anytime soon, though.)

In the event that I am passed over for this gift, I will try, as I have always tried, to find some of that dream in bits of other tasks. At present I am sort of a caregiver educator in my nursing position. I will continue to do the best I can wherever I am, no matter what I am doing. Thank you for allowing me this chance at the scholarship. Until the contest is over I with have the hope of winning.Submit your entry to the Career Stimulus Package.

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