Guest Blogger and Free Minds Student Rachel Martinez Discusses Lifelong Learning

I always wanted to go to college, I just thought that I wouldn’t be able to make the grade. I was absent from school a lot due to illness, and as life would have it, I stopped going to high school at the end of my junior year to establish my current occupation as a mother. I had to provide for my family, sometimes working three jobs at a time. But I have never been a quitter and I believed that a high school diploma was better for me than a GED. I graduated high school in 1974, three years after the rest of my class. I was so glad and proud to have completed that part of my education.

I’ve had many jobs with very interesting people who all had degrees in several fields. The only way I kept up with them was by staying current on what was happening in the world. I have had an exciting experience volunteering during the past 16 years — 13 with PTA /Austin Council of PTAs — and at the moment I’m president of my neighborhood resident council with the Housing Authority (HACA).

Life taught me many things, but I couldn’t get over my self-doubt, and my spelling was atrocious. How could I get into college?

I first heard about Free Minds during a meeting at HACA. The presenter was still talking when my hand went up in the air. I knew this was for me. I filled out the application on the spot and was on cloud nine in anticipation of being accepted. When I got the good news, I felt like a kid with new shoes ready for the first day of school.

Classes started and I found myself surrounded by talented and inspired adults. We all had one common desire: to continue learning. Reading about history, literature, and the humanities, and then applying what I learned onto paper in my own words, was both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Taking this class with Free Minds has inspired me to apply for scholarships through HACA and seek an Associate of Arts degree in creative writing. Writing is something I could do from home or even part-time outside in the community. I have so many stories that I want to share. It took 36 years to start college and now I don’t want to stop.

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