"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 community college.

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
401 E. Capitol Ave., Suite 200
Springfield, IL 62701-1711
217-528-2858 (phone)
217-528-8662 (fax)
ICCTA@communitycolleges.org (e-mail)
http://www.communitycolleges.org



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