Feb 21, 2016
The Road Less Traveled
Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.
Major Decision #1
November 1977 to November 1981 when I joined the United States Army. This gave me the opportunity to not only serve my country but travel to Europe and meet people from all over the United States. I did my Basic and AIT at Ft. Jackson, SC. I was posted at the 569th PSC in Augsburg, Germany and at the 101st Airborne Division located at Ft. Campbell, KY. During my four years in the Army I also went TDY (temporary duty) at various bases inside and outside the U.S.
The Army reinforced the sense of discipline, accountability and responsibility that my parents Edward and Mable Palmer had already implanted within me. I received an Honorable Discharge and am very proud to be a U.S. Army Veteran.
Major Decision #2
September 1995 when I decided to move forward in earning my BA at Marymount Manhattan College. My Dad Edward G. Palmer had just passed away that year May 13, 1995 at age 65 and I then became responsible for both my mother Mable Palmer and my brother Stephen Palmer. I felt I needed to get my BA as being a College graduate was both my Dad’s desire and mine but I was just too busy running around living free and easy. Once my Father died I inherited his responsibilities and I felt that college would give me an up in terms of critical thinking and advancing my then career.
Being a student was both exhilarating and challenging. At that time Marymount Manhattan College was a private Women’s Catholic college which had just begun to admit men on a limited scale. Therefore the classes were small and the professors took a personal interest in the intellectual and educational development of each student. By the time I went to MMC all the instructors were secular not the Nuns that had preceded them many years before. The professors and the Dean were dedicated to helping Ladies succeeded especially returning Women students like myself.
At that time I was 36 years old definitely not a teenager but an adult who worked full-time and a caregiver. I did briefly attend Marymount Manhattan College around 1987/88 but being in my 20s was my wild & crazy period so I did not stick it out even though I was doing very well in school. Not to say the professors were easy on the students in terms of work load. There were tons of novels and other books to read and 25 page research papers to write on a bi-weekly basis. I suppose it was stressful but a positive stress. An intellectual challenge and I rose to the occasion.
Entering college as an adult I knew that I wanted to major in English literature unlike an 18 year old who is inexperienced with the world in general and probably has very little work experience. At age 36 I had already served my country as a soldier in the United States Army and had many years in the workplace. Many people including some relatives kept asking me “Why are you majoring in English? Are you going to become a teacher?” My answer then as now is I Love English literature and I knew I could pass and no I had no intentions of becoming a teacher.
My Mom who was still living at the time never asked me any ridiculous questions. She was happy that I cared for her, went to work, studied hard in school and went to church. Mom was proud of me and my accomplishments. Sadly my mother followed my Dad into the hereafter August 1998 at age 68. Neither she nor my Dad ever got to see me graduate from Marymount Manhattan College May 2002 when I was 43 however their spirits spurred me on to successfully complete a difficult year long course called Women in Urban Leadership, make the Deans List in 1999 and graduate Cum Laude. Both my parents were born in 1930 at a time when racism, lynchings, discrimination and Jim Crow ruled America. They felt that my generation as the first generation to benefit from the Civil Rights Movement could and should uplift the race through education. My accomplishments were not just for me but for my parents, grandparents, aunts and great-uncles who never had those opportunities.
Marymount Manhattan College opened up a new world to me, helped develop my writing skills and gave me confidence in those writing skills. During this time the then Dean Joan Brookshire said to me that I had a gift for writing. My professors male and female built me up and I felt a sense of accomplishment. So for me returning to college was probably the best decision of my adult life.