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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Life after armed forces; Rediscovering my purpose as a civilian
Ashton Byers is a communications major and works at the Veteran Services Center, Feb. 21. | Photo by Destinee Lang | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Ashton Byers
Staff Writer
[email protected]

Whenever I begin to doubt my reason for being put here on earth, I place my hand over my heart.

Try it. You feel that? We’re alive for a reason, our beating hearts are a reminder of that. We all come from diverse backgrounds, different ages, and have different motivations that led us to college, but at the end of the day, we are all in it together. We all have the same goal: to better ourselves.

I had to figure out what my purpose was at a very sensitive place and time in my life. I separated from the Air Force January, 2017, and started school the same month. I was ending my military contract and entering the civilian world as a college student, two lifestyles that could not be more different. To top it off, I was a single mother of two, with a four year old and a newborn.

College has its ups and downs. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a rough day or two, whether cramming for exams, finishing a paper, and all of the other struggles that come from trying to “adult.” At one point I remember breaking down to my speech professor, Lorri Petite, explaining to her how I wasn’t sure I could make it through school. After talking with her, I left with a newly formed sense of confidence that I could somehow make it. I started studying chemistry from the time I put my kids to bed until sunrise. Another thing that saved me was making an inquiry into work-study programs on campus. I was able to study and work all before heading home at 5 p.m. so I could put all the focus back on my kids.
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It was all about the balance; figuring out how to make it all work. But that’s just the beginning, for many students, just selecting a major is a stressful process because it feels like that decision will determine our future. Being a veteran puts even more stress on the fact that there are only certain classes you can take according to your education plan. This is to ensure the requirements are met to receive payment of your G.I. Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation.

Choosing a major became a headache because I had to make sure the classes I chose were being approved through Veterans’ Affairs in order to receive credit. If they weren’t, I would have to pay out of pocket for them. Once I had my ducks in a row and settled on a major, the next step was figuring out how to navigate through college.

College for many of us is a stepping stone to finding our purpose in life, but who are we outside of that? When I got out of the military, I had to rediscover who I was as a person, as a veteran, a mother, a daughter, a sister and friend. With so many new roles to play, it was easy to lose track of who I really was. College grounded me because it helped me discover my passions, connect with people who had the same passions, and grow.

For example, writing was a passion I discovered as early as eight years old. I even received an outstanding student award for my writing in third grade, and wrote short stories at ten, the longest being ten pages. By sixteen I still kept a journal, but it was more so just for fun. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized what a powerful tool writing could be.

The ability to put everything I’ve been feeling down on paper helped me release everything I’ve been carrying. It also taught me to study how humans communicate with each other. This is what I grew most fascinated in, which is why I chose to pursue a degree in public relations. I proudly pursued my goal at City College, and I plan to continue this degree by transferring to Sacramento State in the fall.

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    PeytonMay 14, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    This piece was absolutely awesome. You vulnerability is so refreshing, and encouraging to all of us young women who are trying to make it in this crazy world.