Las Vegas, NV — I'm in my last semester of college. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be able to cross the finish line in May. I'm not sure why I had the impression that my senior year would be a walk in the park.
Getting published as a writer was the furthest thing from my mind when I began my professional career as a journalist, and that is something I’ve been able to do. No matter how exhausted I am or how difficult it is to tell weekdays from weekends, I will never lose sight of the goal. At this point, I can only express my gratitude for how I came to be in this position. It has been through my college experience that I have learned to enjoy the journey of life, even if there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
In the spring of 2017, I began my college career. It was as if it were a continuation of my high school experience. College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is only a few minutes away from my high school. Even before I entered college, I had already begun the transition into adulthood. As a child, I was forced to grow up faster than I would have liked due to my mother's multiple health issues.
After taking care of my mother since I was in eighth or ninth grade, it was nothing for me to take care of her while I was in college. Before COVID-19, I was able to see how the American healthcare system was not what it should be. Too much medication was given to my mother on too many nights, and I saw her turn blue in the face and unable to breathe as a result.
These were the most difficult drives home because I had to put my mother's life in the hands of these same people. After all, I knew I couldn't stay in the hospital any longer because I had class the next day. Every time my mother had a diabetic reaction, she would be sweating profusely and telling me to get her a blanket because she was cold, and I witnessed it all. It was clear to my mother that I was constantly juggling the demands of maturing into a young man while also trying to keep it together mentally for the both of us. I had to watch her suffer physically while she had to watch me suffer mentally, and we were the only ones left.
In the beginning, she would refer to me as her "rock," and I would do my best to be that for her.
Aug. 3, 2018. was the day I lost my mother. It was the first time in my life that I felt the world stop moving. Soon, the feelings of sadness and depression gave way to a strange sense of numbness I'd never experienced before. Honestly, I didn't care what anyone was saying to me because I couldn't hear them. I also didn't want to listen to anything they had to say.
Around that time someone asked me if it was somewhat of a relief for me since I didn’t have to deal with the heavy load of taking care of my mom. Since the question had me completely stumped, I took a moment to collect my thoughts before responding with one of those yes/no answers. My mother's illness had freed me from the burden of constantly figuring out who I am and taking care of her, so the answer was yes. However, it’s also no, because I'd rather have my mother with me today than be without her.
My final college semester is winding down and after four years of hard work, I can finally see the fruits of my labor. In addition to the events I've been invited to, I've also made a number of new friends and received job offers as a result. Looking back on the mental and emotional rollercoaster I've been on for the past few years, I'm grateful for every day. Even though I sometimes can't believe where I am, it all makes sense. It feels like a dream to me. Regardless of what I was going through, I never faltered and I never stopped working.
I'm starting to see the fruits of my labor in the form of new opportunities. In my mind, I feared that staying at home for school would limit my personal development in some way. It's safe to say I was completely off the mark. You, not your Zip Code, is the sole determinant of how you develop as a person. But I suppose that's just part of the experience of staying home for college as you grow away.