Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest Post: Getting an Education as a Navy Wife

photo credit: orangeacid via photopin cc
Today I have a wonderful guest post from my good friend Jacquie Antepenko. I asked her to write this post after she told me about what she had to do in order to finish her degree and I realized it's probably a very common problem among Navy Wives so I asked to share her story. Give her lots of love and comments please!

As a navy wife, I have learned to be my own advocate. We hold so many titles. We are dragged around moving here and there, having to uproot ourselves and our kids. We learn to adjust, sacrifice, have plans A, B, C down to Z ... then scrap them all with a smile and start all over. We have to network and learn to play well with others, step out of our comfort zone… We are really a special breed of people.

As a young independent woman, there were a few things I wanted for myself in life, and the way I envisioned it before I met my husband was very different from how it turned out, but it did and is turning out. When I married my husband nine years ago, I was very young, had two kids, became a first time home owner, and I wanted to go to RN school. 

I spent the next several years busting my hump trying to make my career come true while moving from location to location, and praying I could finish in time before we had to move again but I never could and faced every kind of hurtle you could think of on the way. 

photo credit: Abizern via photopin cc
Financially, I don’t know how we did it. Being a mother of two children and trying to complete nursing school was no joke. We had paid daycare off with loans. We had one income and made it work. Yet, it seemed we always made just a little too much to have any financial help. 

Then there was the nightmare of trying to register for an out of state college as a military member while in the process of moving with a family. Before we moved from Florida to South Carolina, I found pretty much the only school I could go to for nursing in our area and made all the preparation. I drove miles to take a certain test in order to get into the program. I had to jump hoops to get all my transcripts from all the colleges I've attended. Then on the first week of school a miscommunication in the administration office forced me to miss my first clinical day, and I had no way to make it up. I cried in that office and felt like such a failure. I had no way to prove I had made the proper arrangements and I had to drop.
There was hope though. I could start the following semester. Then that door closed when not long after my husband tells me the entire squadron is moving to California. GREAT! Everything felt like it was falling in on me. I just wanted to get on with my schooling, and I had no one I could talk to who could help me with it. I had to start the process of moving and attending an out-of-state college all over.

Jacquie Antepenko at her graduation.
Next I learned we were moving to a state where apparently nursing is extremely popular. I learned there was a horrible waiting list for nursing schools in California, and they also did what is called a lottery system to pick who is admitted. I also learned that we would only be in California for two years, so it was getting more and more impossible to find a school that fit my needs. But I refused to stop. I decided to take some online classes and get my associates degree. Eventually, I stumbled upon a college for an LVN/LPN program. It was not what I wanted, but it’s what I could get so I was going to take it.

When we got to California, I started my classes about four months later. There was a TON of issues with how much coverage I would get from the GI bill and financial aid. Every time we had a new class, I swear I was in financial aids office and signing new papers because there was some sort of mix up in prices.

Also with this school, was the issue of trying to get classes approved that I had already taken in Florida. For each class, I had to bring my huge binder full of class descriptions, information about my nursing program in Florida, syllabuses, etc. It didn’t help either that while I was there, we had several people quit, so every time someone new came in like a director or counselor, I had to retell what felt like a very lengthy story as to why I am not taking a particular class.

FINALLY! Finally, Finally, FINALLY!

Jacquie Antepenko and her family.
I finished my LVN program on February 2, 2013 after attending SIX different colleges across the nation. I ended with two associates degrees, as class president, and a part of the graduation committee. I am waiting to take my state boards and just in time before we head to Tennessee!

It’s all been a pain in the butt, indeed, but, I am making my dream come true. I am sharing this all with you because no one should be discouraged from doing what they want to do. Sometimes you have to let go of expectations and just go with the flow. It will not be easy trying to get all your college out of the way if that is what you choose to do, but once you finish, it will mean much more!

It is so much more than just a piece of paper to me. It signifies when I felt my worse how I picked myself up and got moving. It shows my boys how if you really want something, you do not stop until you get it.

And I did.

Jacquie is a Navy Wive, mother, and a graduate. She also blogs on A Day in the Life Of...

What kinds of struggles have you endured to pursue your dreams as a Navy Wife? Have you found any tricks or tips that might help others with dealing with financial aid or going to an out-of-state college?

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