I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 17 years young and had enlisted in the Navy. I had it all figured out. I would graduate High School in June and then ship out to the Great Lakes for boot camp that October. Yep, no college for this kid, no soiree. Then, in a flash, everything changed the day I was scheduled to leave on October 4.
Somehow the 80-year old doctor picked up on the fact that my circulation was less than stellar that fateful day. Back in May, when the weather was warmer, I did not exhibit any such symptoms during my first in-depth physical, but this day was different.
There must have been at least a hundred of us standing around in our underwear at the MEPS building in Boston. I recall being chilled to the bone as I stood there on that concrete floor. Unfortunately for me there was visual evidence to confirm this fact. My digits, as it turns out, revealed a secret that I myself didn’t realize I was keeping.
The purplish hue that glossed over my hands was completely normal to me, but was anything but normal. The doctor ordered blood tests where it was discovered I had a circulation problem called Reynaud’s, which happend to be a disqualifying condition for the military. I was medically discharged 24 hours later.
I was absolutely devastated. Now what I wondered? I ended up going to work for a few years after that. I worked at Stop & Shop supermarket before landing a warehouse job at a company called New England Frozen Foods where I worked in a freezer (12 below zero weather) for 10 hours a day. I was just drifting. It took me three years before I finally woke up from my slumber. That’s when I decided to go back to school.
I started at a community college before moving on to a four year state school. While in school I did internships at Walt Disney World and the WB56 news station before landing jobs at the Boston Globe, John Hancock, and a private jet company. Now I work for the Student Loan Network, where I educate the minds of tomorrow about the financial aid process, and help locate funding solutions for school.
The reason I’m sharing my story is because I want you to know that when all hope seems lost, like when I was discharged from the Navy, something great can still come from it. I just hope it doesn’t take you three years to wake up, like it did me, should you face calamity in your life.
School provides opportunities and opens doors that would otherwise be closed. I wouldn’t consider myself to be scholarly, but I was smart enough to get my butt back to school. Plus, nowadays you can go to school without even going to school.Â You can enroll in a degree program right online.Â You have more options at your disposal today than I had back in the mid-90′s.
It’s easy to make excuses why you can’t, but I’m here to tell you that you CAN.Â You can make it happen, and I’m living proof.
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