"How My Community College
Has Changed My Life"
By Lorelei Blackburn, Moraine Valley Community College
2003 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest Winner
A great woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said, "You gain strength,
courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are
able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this honor. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
You must do the thing you think you cannot do." And I set out to do exactly that with the help of my
Taking Mrs. Roosevelt's words to heart, the first horror I determined to live through was math. Just the
thought of taking a math class sent my imagination to flight. I could picture myself in a large classroom
with a stern instructor putting me on the spot and interrogating me. But the problem was, I had no idea
what language he was speaking! So, in an act of courage last spring, I registered for a math class. To
my delight, the instructor was a friendly and knowedgeable teacher -- and spoke my language! I excelled
in the class and boosted my confidence, as well as my GPA, by earning a high A.
Feeling quite confident after passing my math class in the spring with flying colors, I signed up to take
a drawing class last summer. I was always the kid in art class who was barely capable of drawing stick
people, so I considered drawing a daunting choice, rather than a means of communicating my heart. As
ridiculous as it sounds, I was intimidated by the mere thought of doodling. To my utter amazement,
I did incredibly well, thanks to a skilled teacher and much practice. I even produced several pieces
that were good enough to earn a place in my newly created portfolio.
On the heels of successfully slaying those dragons, I decided to venture farther on my quest and delve into
the world of physics. My friends and family thought I had lost my mind. And I did too, for a moment. But
that moment passed, and so did I. What I had expected to be a threatening classroom experience was actually
entertaining -- and mind expanding! I was thrilled to discover that what I had considered the largest
fire-breathing drago of all was in fact, more like a beautiful prismatic rainbow.
This semester, I am exploring painting and two-dimensional design, as well as beginning with private voice
lessons -- three classes I would never have dreamed of attempting. But Moraine Valley Community College provided
a safe atmosphere to realize new experiences and conquer old fears. In doing so, I have discovered facets of
myself that I never knew existed. I plant to complete my bachelor's of arts degree and possible even
continue on for a master of fine arts. Thanks to my community college, I have gained strength, courage and
confidence. The sky is no longer my limit. I am reaching for the stars.
Lorelei Blackburn of Blue Island received a $500 scholarship for her winning essay during the Trustees
Association's June 2003 annual banquet in Chicago.
Illinois Community College Trustees Association|
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Springfield, IL 62701-1711
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