Finding Empowerment Through Education

By , April 9, 2013 9:23 am

[This post is by special guest blogger Lauren Anderson, a senior majoring in communications studies and Secondary Education.  In this post, she reflects on what she’s really learned over the past four years.]

Clutching my backpack, holding onto my coffee-mug and grasping my purse for dear life was the state of affairs for me in my early beginnings at UMKC.  Unfortunately, my past teachers didn’t share encouraging stories about college, which didn’t make me optimistic about the next four years of my life.  But now, I find myself empowered by education and feeling entitled to every benefit that a person can reap from being a seeker of knowledge.

My first day at UMKC was more than scary, but petrifying. I felt totally disturbed by the flashbacks of past teachers telling me that college was a place for only serious students; college was not a place for fun.  In submitting to this new place called UMKC, I found myself clutching onto my wrinkled-up schedule in search of my first class. I remembered ducking and dodging through the massive crowds of people and trying to navigate through the maze called Royall Hall. Notably, the maze took a turn for the worse when the fresh and cozy smell of Einstein’s coffee lingered through the air and towards my way. Nevertheless, I knew I was on a mission and Einstein’s was not a part of it. As I came closer to my class, I could sense something strange occurring to my body as if it was taken over by something extra-terrestrial. My body became limp. When I opened the door I saw a myriad of unfamiliar faces peering at me as if I had the words “new student” written across my forehead. My boots felt heavy as cinder-blocks; as my body began dragging to an empty seat, my mind wanted to make a quick dash out to freedom. I sat next to the unfamiliar but friendly face and took a deep breath. My first day of class at UMKC soon became the start of higher-education for me and what it represents to progress in seeking education on a deeper-level on a college-campus.

In experiencing my first day I found myself experiencing my first year. The feelings of anxiety, confusion, and excitement never left me that first year. I found myself going to school, doing my work, and repeating the cycle over again. I didn’t understand why students found the need to get into study-circles or to even discuss an issue that was previously discussed in their class. I laughed because they were only fooling themselves into thinking that education was anything more than obtaining a degree. Everyone knew that the purpose of going to school was to get a degree and to get out in hopes of making tons of money later on down the road. I wasn’t about to let school take over my life. I had friends and family to hang with for a good time and school wasn’t on the list. I figured that school was just another place and that it didn’t have to interfere with the rest of my life. Notably, my first year was sort-of a hobby that soon focused into something bigger later on in my years of college.

My second and third year at UMKC became a serious time for me. I found myself struggling to understand my place in school. I didn’t understand what was holding me back in getting into education as a whole. I changed my major three to four times, thus I had plenty of experience in a wide variety of subjects. In taking different courses I found myself appreciating education on a higher-level. I found myself questioning certain things, seeking out further knowledge on what I was being taught, and seeking to get clarification about issues. In my second to third year of UMKC I found myself yearning for education and what it had to offer. One of my professors told me that I had to be an active learner and I had to be my own advocate for my own education. In leaving my third year with this piece of advice, I began to utilize the tools I have learnt up until then to further increase my understanding of my major and to understand the world around me

In completing my last year at UMKC, I have come to realize that empowerment comes through education. In taking the comments, questions, and issues stemming from my classes I began seeking out understanding the voices of others on campus, in my community, and from the shores of international countries. I began listening actively to the voices of students seeking awareness for their causes. I began holding conversations with professors and other students for hours about problems within coursework, the world, and our local communities. In addition, I had my own concerns and questions still needed to be sorted through eventually. Often, I come from school on a daily basis seeking out the world around me, watching the news, hearing stories from students about life and recognizing the importance of education. Many times we seek to connect school to education, but in some parts of the world the physical place we call school is absent from education due to external factors. So, education goes beyond the confines of a physical location. It is no longer restricted to a room with chairs, students, and a professor. Education is about learning, analyzing, and recognizing the intricacies of the place we call the global-community. It’s about coming from our own biases and ignorance in hopes of bettering our local communities and the world around us.  Education is about coming from a place of fear and anxiety to a place of strength and understanding. Ultimately, it is about finding empowerment through the knowledge that one seeks.

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