Thursday, October 4, 2012

Inspired By President Obama's Mention of Grandmother Age 55 Returning To School

Hello There, VivBounty here to share with you the story of my sister, a grandmother aged 54 going back to school to reinvent herself. Reminded by President Obama in the debate in Denver last night when he mentioned meeting a grandmother age 55 going back to school on the campaign trail, I thought I'd better share this timely story with you.

What may seem at first glance, and in my humble opinion to some as laziness in the case of the unemployed may be a lack of self-confidence, a loss of faith in the job market or job search process and generally a series of events like companies closing or relocating to another State taking only the few chosen executive staff, cut backs, lay offs and all the things which are currently happening in today's world economic crisis.

The relocation of the company in the above scenario was my sister's case only she was administrative support staff so would not be moved to another State at the expense of the company but instead laid off, let go, or whatever politically correct buzzword you choose to substitute here. While her children were in a middle school with very high tuition, she chose to work at the school again in a secretarial, administrative support capacity in exchange and application towards a portion of that tuition. It was important to her that her children go to a good school and to her that meant private school for which she sacrificed much.

In addition to working in the school office she also worked at a local credit union as a banking teller. These two jobs continued until her youngest child went on to high school when she landed a great job with benefits at a tax accounting firm for the next six years. It was while at the tax accounting firm her granddaughter was born. Joy was soon to become worry as her position was eliminated and she found herself jobless yet again.

Two years of being unemployed, skilled but unable to find work where she could use her general skill set, she did all she could, attending job marts, registering with employment agencies, consulting with employment counsellors and basically pounded the pavement unable to find work. Finally she made the decision to go back to school. It was time to acquire a more specialized skill set to qualify her for the job openings in the current market.
Our Proud Graduate

For the next 8 months she attended Everest Institute full time. Determined to show her children and for the future of her beautiful granddaughter she forged on each day, all the while encouraging the young mothers in her classes to the the same. She would say, "If you just do the modules, show up every day, do your homework when it's due, you won't get behind, you'll be prepared for class, be able to keep up, get good grades and you will graduate to be employable for the jobs that are out there today". At the end of the course, the college assists the students in job placement. Instead of waiting to be given leads or sent on interviews, my sister immediately went on her own search coming back to her teachers and counsellors with information where they might give her reference to the job openings she had found. To her credit and success, she now works in the legal department of the largest health care insurance employer in her State

On August 28, 2010 at the Hilton Hotel at The Point, we celebrated with great jubilation, her graduation from Everest Institute in the Allied Health Department with the honour of making the Dean's List awarded to students with GPA 4.0. As I video taped her during the procession into the auditorium in her cap and gown, she said to me trembling through moist eyes, "Oh my sister, I have goose bumps".
Processing into the auditorium on Graduation Day

You see ever since she was a little girl in East Africa, this woman has sung the Star Spangled Banner, wanted to live in the USA, and graduate from college just like you see in the movies. As the faculty addressed the graduates there was a moment when they were each given a rose to present to the person who inspired them most to keep going through the trials and tribulations and finally complete this journey.

Mya on the happy day of  her Gammy's graduation
For my sister the one little person with such a huge impact on her heart and her life is her precious granddaughter, Mya, now almost 6 years old. I ran all over the auditorium behind her in the chaos of the over 300 graduates looking for their special person not knowing who she was searching for until we finally found little Mya to take this momentous photo with her "Gammy". We hope she will always treasure it, inspiring her and fuelling her on when she comes upon the hurdles in her life as most certainly every little girl does growing up to be all that she wants to be.

This is the sister that has always believed in me until I could believe in myself. She's my inspiration and my support system. Whenever I stumbled in life she has always been there to help me dust myself off, pull my socks up and keep right on going putting one foot in front of the other towards happiness and success. I share her with you and the world here because she is a gift. In fact I even said to a cousin who doesn't have sisters recently that I'm happy to share my sister with her because I know what a treasure she is, how supportive, inspirational and encouraging she is in my life. As Bishop T.D. Jakes once said, and I paraphrase a little bit here,  "like the scaffolding around a building, our loved ones are there to hold us up, surrounding and supporting, never leaving until we are able to stand on our own. And for that we thank God".

3 sisters
I know just as sure as I'm sitting here that my sister, the scaffolding of my life, will come and prop me up, surrounding me and protecting me with her matter-of-fact love and counselling every time I need some renovation and improvement and as always to celebrate my joy and successes, big and small regardless of how far we live from each other, which just happens to be 1,797.3 km at this moment. We are interwoven in the fabric of each other's lives and as we sisters, all three of us, say to each other, "we come as package", something we have been embued with by our Mum, who was the proudest of her that day.
None more proud than our Mum

My beautiful sister was such an inspiration to her teachers that she was asked to come back the next semester to address the graduating class and share her experience. As she stood up there, speaking off the cuff and from the heart with pride in her accomplishments, she assured every one of the graduates that they too could do it. At the end of her speech a woman in the audience approached her saying that she too was a grandmother in her 50's and was so very encouraged and inspired by her words to go back to school and reinvent herself as she now knows it's never too late.

Until next time, I live in search of more inspiration to help you manifest your bounty, whatever that means for you.


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