My Journey Towards a College Education: A Student’s Experience

Writer – Aaron Murdoch


Aaron MurdochThere is not one person in my immediate, or extended family, who has successfully graduated from a college degree program of any kind. In fact, none of my close friends or their family members have earned a college education. My mom had graduated from high school and my dad left home to pursue a job at the local hardware store. Going to college wasn’t even a thought in my mind when I graduated high school. I had been taught, by example, that a man went out and got the best job he could to make the best of whatever circumstances came his way. After all, my dad was a success story; he worked his way up with his company and ended up doing very well for himself financially. Success was measured by being able to comfortably support a wife and two kids. I envisioned that my working life wouldn’t be any different.
My first “real” job was working full time at the Home Depot where I worked my way up from a parking lot attendant to the lead-hand in the flooring department where I sold every kind of floor covering. My supervisors appreciated my work ethic and decided to place me in the Departmental Supervisor Training (DST) program to groom me for management. All of my colleagues supported me and encouraged me to go “all the way” with the company. I quickly realized that working in a retail environment wasn’t for me with the long hours and constant pressures of beating previous monthly sales records. I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I just knew that there was a gap in my life and something seemed to be missing.
Since my days of working at the Home Depot, I moved into the dry cleaning business, building and maintaining multiple mobile sales routes for six years. I was good at it, actually I was great at it. My employer Mike looked at me one morning while I was picking up the work van and said “You can sell; you’re a great salesman.” He was right, I was very good at my job, I worked to the best of my ability, my weekly sales numbers were growing, and my management team around me noticed this. The company even had plans to sell the business to me and work alongside their parent company as a team. There was one large problem looming. I still wasn’t truly happy with my current career choice and had dreams of doing something greater.
Not one single person in my entire network of life was a college graduate, until I met my wife, and her entire family. At the age of 33, I suddenly found myself inside a family surrounded by doctors, teachers, professors and business professionals. My wife’s family, consisting of her two parents and three siblings all had earned at least a master’s degree, with one doctorate as the exception. One could say that I felt a little bit out of place. Actually, I felt inferior, small, insignificant and embarrassed. Basically, I felt like a complete loser. Here I am, a guy with only a high school diploma finding myself in a family where everyone is highly educated with great jobs and seemed completely happy with their lives. Unfortunately, I could not say the same, which caused a fire to burn deep inside of me to work towards a greater goal of earning a college degree.
So, here I am enrolled in my first semester of the bachelor’s program in Converged Communications at Florida State College at Jacksonville. My dream of this accomplishment is slowly becoming a reality, as I have graduated recently with my Associates in Arts degree last semester. I have an overwhelming desire for serving others in efforts to find their true passion for what they want to fulfill within their working life. The reason for this is due to my personal difficulty of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the “rest of my life.” I wrestled with this question for many years and I now have the comfort in knowing that a bachelor’s degree in converged communications is the perfect fit for me. A career goal of mine is to gain full time employment with Florida State College at Jacksonville as a Student Success Advisor for the opportunity to serve and greatly impact college students in an inspirational way.
Upon successful completion of my bachelor degree program, I will have acquired the valuable tools and skills necessary to adequately support those who need a helping hand through discovering their academic and career related calling in life. Attaining a bachelor’s degree will not only be a tremendous investment in my life, but also for the lives of the future generations that would be profoundly impacted in an edifying, inspirational and educational way.
Some of the obstacles that stand in the way for me to be able to reach my academic and career goals are the commitments needed towards my family. I am a stay at home dad for our two-year-old son, Jack who requires the majority of my time and energy. My wife is currently the breadwinner for our family which allows me to finish my homework and project assignments during our son’s nap times. Our family situation definitely has its financial challenges, and we have given up and cut back on all of the “frills” of life as much as a family possibly can. We live very simply without cable television, internet or a dryer for our wet clothes. My wife and I try to live our lives humbly, simply and as financially responsible as possible.
One day soon, my aspiration is for the ability to give back to those like me who don’t have a lot of money, so they may also have the opportunity to attain a college education and achieve great things. My hope is this that by having the ability to pass on the life lessons I have learned to others and motivate them to do the same, creating a cycle of education, lifelong learning and successes in their careers.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Stephanie Hall says:

    Very nice! So proud of you Aaron! You will be a wonderful counsel to those searching.

  2. Johnny. V says:

    I do believe one close friend named Johnny V may have graduated college… oh and his lovely wife Sharon who also considers you a close friend has also hmmmmm?I’m watching you……other than that good job………I likes the mma over 40 article too……the tugboat captain one was extremely well written but the subject was not to my personal intrest so I honestly never finished it…sorry….I will keep looking for your work….Keep it up

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