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All my life I wanted to be a college graduate. However in high school I didn't have the grades for college. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get what the teachers were telling me. I didn't think I was dumb but my grades said otherwise. Instead of continuing on to college after high school I joined the Army.

During my hitch I befriended a soldier who told me he was dyslexic. After several conversations about his condition I learned that I to was dyslexic. It took a great deal of effort, but in time I was able to relearn how to learn. After my hitch was over I decided to give college a try. I did one semester at Kent State but for personal reasons I decided to go to work after that. I joined my father working as a blacksmith.

I enjoyed the work and the money was pretty good. So I figured this was my place in life. But I never lost my dream of completing a degree. It was something that sort of gnawed at me when I would think about where my life was heading.

Fast forward seven years and I am nearly crippled in an industrial accident, my father is dieing of cancer, and I have a wife and a one year old daughter. My wife and I move in with my parents, who are tapped out because of the medical bills relating to my father’s cancer, and take over their bills as well as ours. I mostly recovered from the industrial accident, but it would/will be only a matter of time before my body could no longer be able to handle physical labor. So my wife and I decide it is time for me to go back to college. You want to talk about scared, just imagine being 29 years old, supporting two families, facing disability, father slowly deteriorating with cancer, I was scared out of my wits. But with my wife’s endless support I continued on.

During my first semester my father’s condition worsened. He was no longer able to work, which meant that our already tight money situation was about to get worse. To top matters off, when my father lost his job he lost his insurance. The burden that was placed upon my wife and I was unbelievable. Here we are, barely able to pay our own bills. Now we had my parents’ normal bills and my father’s medical bills. There just wasn’t enough money to go around. My wife and I had the choice of paying our bills, or buying pain medicine for my dad. What choice would you make? Eventually my wife and I had to declare bankruptcy.

So here we are, probably the lowest point of our lives. The idea of quitting school was mighty appealing. I could probably make enough to have made things a little easier on everybody. Probably the only thing that kept me going was the fact that my family wanted me to. My wife was doing everything in her power to give me what I needed to continue on. Not only did she take over as the primary wage earner in the house, at times she was almost single handedly raising my daughter. Between school and work I had next to no spare time. God bless my wife. Without her I have no clue where I would be now. Two weeks before the end of my first semester my father was taken. He died in more pain than most of us will ever know. I think it was a small comfort to him that he was able to see his son at least begin to make something of himself.

As the old saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Eventually, with no small amount of hard work our situation improved. There were still challenges that lay ahead, many of them. But if we could survive what we had just been through, we could survive anything. Fast forward three years and here I am, a college graduate. Dreams can come true. My only regret is that I wish my father could have lived to see this.

Picture taken earlier today - Aug 21, 2004
Wow... fantastic story. Congratulations on achieving a dream brother!

You're like the fullback of college.... no easy yards, all kinds of obstacles in your way... but you just lower your head and keep your feet moving... Hurting? Drive the pile! Want to quit? Drive the pile! and eventually... touchdown KSB!

... and your still giving credit to your linemen (don't tell your wife I called her a lineman.. it was in a good way). :biggrin:
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Fantastic- congratulations, KSB!!

A lot of people in your situation would have bailed out- not only from school, but from their family as well. What you've done, with the obstacles you've faced, is huge. Great job, man!!

:bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:
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Here is hoping that you leave a legacy in that you will get to have this picture taken again when your daughter graduates from college. Maybe another with her child.
Best of luck in your future endeavors.
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Great story. Way to keep your chin up through all that adversity.

Your reward will come, be patient.

You might want to add 'college graduate' to that moniker.

Major congrats.
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Thank you all for the kind words. I've come to regard many of you as very good friends in the past couple of years. To recieve praises from you all means a lot to me right now. I'm not normally so emotional but the past three years have been a roller coaster (I thank Jim Tressel for a great deal of that ride). The events of the past several years sort of overwelmed me today.

Boro - I wouldn't worry to much about calling my wife a O-lineman. She learned about football from me. As such she has an appreciation for the big uglies.

bucknola - I think the legacy will continue a little sooner than my daughter. My wife starts classes the week after next. My daughter is in the process of deciding between Kent State and Ohio State. Needless to say I'll be happy with either choice. Maybe a little happier if she goes to OSU.

osugrad - I have a Bachelor of Science in Technology. My degree program was kind of a hybrid of Computer Science and Business Management. My major intrest is working with databases. However, I'm strongly considering heading back to school after my wife finishes her degree. I think I want to teach at the college level. Watching the doctoral candidates getting hooded seemed pretty sweet. Plus Dr. KentStateBuck has a real nice ring to it. Maybe I would be lucky enough to do my graduate studies at Ohio State. Then I would officially be a KentStatebuck.
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