First Generation College Student Aspires to Serve His Family and His Community by Earl Witman

I chose to earn a degree because I want to have a better life for my family.  I have four children, that we home school.   I want to have a career that will enable me to continue to support my family and allow my wife to continue schooling our children.   My dream is to have a degree in criminal justice and serve our country. Serving the community has always been my dream, which is why I was a volunteer firefighter and a Marine.

 Finding time for family, work, and school was extremely hard.  There never seemed to be enough time to go around.  University of Mount Olive was a fantastic choice for me, because it allowed me to go to school full-time while still maintaining a full-time job.  I never thought I would go to college, much less full-time!  Nobody in my extended family has ever been to college, so I am very proud that I am graduating with my associate’s degree!
The first year of school was tough. I had to learn how to write papers, and study. I only went to a vocational high-school where academics were light.  Having been out of school almost ten years, getting back into the groove of studying was all new to me.
About a year into my schooling, my two-year-old became deathly ill with bacterial meningitis.  He spent 34 days in the hospital, almost two hours from our home.  I worked on my school work next to his hospital bed.  During this illness, my son had a stroke and lost his hearing.  He had to have a second hospitalization to have cochlear implants, and many hours of therapy which added a lot of stress to our home.  I also lost my job and was unemployed for several months.
Through it all, I managed to stay in school.  My grades weren’t perfect, but I persevered and I have finished.  I realized through my son’s illness that life is unpredictable.  It brought my family close together, and made me realize we need to try and fulfill our dreams now, since we do not know what is coming tomorrow.
After graduation I plan to immediately start the criminal justice bachelor’s program at University of Mount Olive.  I want to keep my momentum strong!  When I graduate I am planning a big party.  I hope my mom can afford to come from Phillipsburg, NJ to watch me walk.  I have applied to work with the North Carolina Prisons as a guard.  For now, I am an armed security guard, but hope to find a career that will use my degree and let me continue fulfilling my dreams.