It has been a long, hard road to be honest. The year’s 2014 and 2015 had not been the greatest for the Valentin family. Financially tough, emotionally, and at times mentally straining. After a failed sales career, I moved my family back home from Cincinnati, Oh. to Canton, Il in hopes to restart and rebuild. For the first time in my life I bounced from job to job and felt like a failure to my wife and little girl. My wife, without me knowing, reached out to Ashford and did her own research on AU and set up a call for me while I was at work. She had a goal, which was to help me find my self worth again and bring back the confidence in myself that I once had. I came home and she told me the news and informed me that I would be getting a call from AU any day. Boy! Am I glad I took that call… Erick reached out to me in May of 2014 and we talked about my degree and my major, this dude is/was brilliant and a great admissions counselor. The road to finish my degree had started thanks to my wife and to Erick.
There were, at points throughout this nearly two-year journey, that I wanted to stop and call it quits. I felt I was wasting energy and time on a dream that I felt was out of reach. I gained a couple extra gray hairs and wrinkles during this time, but my wife kept pushing, kept reminding me about the end results of this achievement in my life if I kept with it.
Bouncing from a factory job, multiple sales jobs, no job, to a place I never thought I would end up, construction. The ups and downs of my job situation was mentally exhausting for me. Surprisingly, working construction was the balance I needed. I was clueless in this new line of work and couldn’t tell you the difference between a hammer and a sledgehammer. However, the patience my boss had with me is what kept me from not having a meltdown.
After a year of working construction my outlook started changing. I was learning something new everyday and enjoyed working outside with my hands. I had about four more classes left and saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized my goal of having a degree was insight. I received a phone call and was offered a job with the IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections) from way back when I tested nearly a year before. I accepted, yet then realized that I would have to put my hopes on gaining my degree on hold due to being sent to academy to become a correctional officer. AU was very understanding and supportive. In fact, Dylan was my student adviser at the time and helped me fill out the correct paper work in regards to my leave of absence in order to attend my six-week long training academy, on top of that, they gave me more time after I graduated from academy to get my feet on the ground at my new facility.
Fast forward to April 4, 2016. I finished my last paper and class at AU and now on April 10th, I feel like I need to be finishing up another paper or respond to a discussion post. I feel a great emotional weight and burden has been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in a long time I feel successful.
THIS has been the year for the Valentin’s. A new career, another little girl on the way (any day/moment now), and waiting to close on our first home. To add to that my bachelor’s degree! I never thought I would be able to say that I would have a bachelor’s in arts degree and have completed my communication major. I feel that self worth again, that confidence I used to have. I feel proud that I have accomplished this major stepping stone, not just for myself, but for my family. I have bettered my kid’s lives with this conclusion of this chapter in my life. As much as I would love to attend my graduation ceremony cross country with my fellow AU graduates, due to a very pregnant wife and distance I won’t be able to attend. The fact of the matter is, we did it! The graduating class of 2016, with all of our backgrounds and current life situations we accomplished a dream we all had in common, a better future! Bring on 2017!