I always wanted to do something with my life, but didn’t exactly make the best plan of action to make that possible. I am twenty-nine years old, I worked in collections a few years but for the most part, I’ve been in the restaurant industry all my life. I grew up watching my mother work in restaurants. I took my first steps in a restaurant. At sixteen years old, I left home and moved to Atlanta, GA. I had my first child at eighteen, was married and remarried with a second child by the age of twenty-three. I decided then, that my life wasn’t going to just fix itself, the years of built up anger and resentment toward my father had me in a downward spiral. I needed to do something different. My cousin told me about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and that I could go to school and do something with my life that had meaning. I took her advice and started the process. This was a big deal, no one else in my family has earned a degree. I grew up in a mill town, my mom and dad didn’t go to college and their parents barely made it through grade school. I knew that having that piece of paper could change the course of not only my future, but generations after me. The choice I made to put my education on hold, made things a little tough for me, but in the end they have made me a stronger woman.
I have learned a lot about who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to do for others. My strengths shine at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. I have connected with many of my instructors. I not only call them mentors, but friends. I am currently at North Campus in the Radiography program. This program is very difficult and there is selective admission. I know this first-hand because when I applied and took the TEAS test in 2012, I was not admitted. My scores were good, but not good enough to be in the top. I buckled down and decided I was not going to give up, I was going to not only prepare and apply again the following year, but I was going to have earned another degree before the program started. This goal was high, but it was reachable. I reached out to some advisors and set up a plan. I received daycare assistance and spent countless hours studying for my full time class load in addition to reviewing TEAS test material. All the while, I worked part time and cared for my family of four. I was also involved with the parent teachers association, youth ministry, and other outreach programs. This busy load was not easy to do with a joyful heart. At times, the stress wore on my marriage and my relationships. Throughout my time here at Rowan-Cabarrus, I have learned that I am extremely dedicated to whatever I put my mind to. The people I’ve connected with here have shown me that I have strengths and that I must celebrate those strengths. I’m not just a mother and a wife. I have dreams and desires and if I want to wear all the hats, I certainly can. I understand now, that when I am happy and confident, I can give that away to others.
I am no longer in the cycle of generational lack. With my choices, I have changed my fate, and those after me. I am set to graduate in May 2015, and will sit for my registry the day after. I will be Amber Blackwelder, RT(R) and I won’t stop there. I plan on taking a summer course and sit for the Mammography registry before the fall of 2015. From there, I’ll continue to get my bachelor’s degree. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all”? The answer is simple, if you want something bad enough, you make it happen.