A Work in Progress:
Educational Autobiography of
University of South Florida
“The true joy of life is being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one instead of being a selfish little clot of ailments and grievances.” –G. B. Shaw.
“For the scholar-practitioner, his or her being and becoming are socially constructed through practice. Therefore, the leader’s ethical self understandings are not gained through observing facts, but in his or her value-laden narrative renderings of those facts.” -J. Lum
I was always an inquisitive child. I remember a strong connection with my father in my earliest years, cloudy snapshots of a time when I was still an only child, the light of his life, and his buddy. I felt a sense of pride every time we tried new foods together or we sat outside and talked about the stars and the universe beyond while he grilled our dinner. Dad had attempted to earn a college degree, but could not complete his freshman year because of his parents’ finances. He entered the military in 1971, a few months before I was born, and excelled in his career as a sailor. He is a quiet and humble man, one of strong moral backbone and extremely high expectations for his children- especially me. My need for approval and the hunger for seeing and doing new things were set before I turned five. When my sister and brother came along, things changed. Hallmark memories are painful, uncomfortable. When I decided to give softball a try at age twelve, dad jumped in as umpire. If I wasn’t nervous enough walking up to the plate during my first (and only) season, hearing his voice thunder, “STRIKE”, “STRIKE”, “OUT” totally broke down my self-confidence. Later, in high school, I remember coming home one day with glee because I had earned a “99%” on a challenging assignment. His response was, “Why not a hundred?” I’ve forgiven my father in recent years, understanding as an adult that he meant well, he just expressed his faith in me poorly. I don’t remember ever feeling close to my mother, nor did I want to be like her. Never considering college, she was a stay at home mom and always talked down about herself as I was growing up. I suppose this is due to the dysfunctions in her nuclear family- issues I’ve caught wind of now and then in brief slips of tongue. The fact that my father nit-picks my mother’s every movement doesn’t help- but she takes it. Sometimes I think that there’s more to my mother deep down that I’ve never gotten to see. Maybe she never really met that person, either. Stories of her excellence on the high school basketball team or outlandish social life as a teen shock me. I can’t imagine her that way and I wonder if her life would have turned out different if one or two variables had been altered. When I was six years old my sister was born. Life went from that of a frolic-y, carefree child to that of the little mother. My brother was born twenty-one months later and I helped with feeding, diapering, bathing, etc. as well as the laundry, dishes, vacuuming and mowing the lawn. I withdrew into a state of depression and lack of self-worth. I was miserable for many years. Still, schoolwork came easy to me and I took pride in being the good student, the teacher’s pet and the smart one in class. School was a place where I could be successful and appreciated. At the age of seventeen, I began searching for colleges. I paid the application fees with money I earned from my part-time job. I arranged trips with friends’ parents to visit campuses, and made sure all my transcripts and test scores were in. My parents’ final sting came when they asked, “Why do you think you’re going to college? You won’t finish anyway…” (no one in my extended family on either side had ever earned a bachelors degree at that time). I replied, “Yes I will, and I’ll get a Masters degree, too!” A few weeks later, I got a letter from Winthrop University offering a full academic scholarship and...
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