We all travel through the education journey, since we were very young children. We are raised that education is important and of course essential and as a kid you dont have a choice.
I often wonder, what would have happened had I completed everything that I needed immediately, right after highschool and so on. However, I didn’t really have that choice and oftentimes I need to remind myself this.
The other point is that everyone has a different journey and timeline.
When I was a younger amazing Fanny, I applied for a specialized art school for high school. I had past the art entrance test, interview and received a waiting list letter. I was then told that they could not accept me as they were not taking any applicants from District 1. By now, most of you know that I was raised in the Lower East Side (LES) of New York also known as Alphabet City. I am proudly from 11 Street and Avenue A.
At the time, I applied we were having many issues in my district, with crime, violence and poverty but that was a norm for me as I was blind to it. I honestly thought everyone had these issues in their neighborhood.
Unfortunately, the school board didn’t and decided because of what was going on in District 1, it would be safer to exclude the children from that community. My mom was devastated and we did not plan a back up plan. So I had to attend my local high school, which was the toughest school school in New York City at the time. I knew a lot of people that were beat up, shanked, raped and attacked there. I also had friends that graduated and we called them survivors. My parents were not having it, so in a pinch transferred me to another high school that unbeknownst to us was an alternative school.
It was the early 90’s and although we didn’t have much, I asked for new school clothes and a fresh book bag for high school and was excited to start that fall. When I arrived to get my classes, I realized a couple of things: At 15, I was the youngest female student there, a majority of the girls who were 18 were pregnant and the boys had mustaches, tattoos and were in their twenties. I couldn’t understand what happened. My mother came back with me the next day and we sat and spoke with the counselor who explained that this school was an alternative for kids who didn’t want their GED and wanted to finish High School and attain an academic diploma. The other issue was that I couldn’t transfer out until I completed one year.
So, like in every situation I am in, I made the best of it. Became friends with everyone, babysat my classmates kids after school, did the best in all my classes, tutored my crush who had just celebrated his 21 birthday and maintained an A average so I can transfer out. I also, worked on my athletic side and played basketball with the fellas from my study group, rollerbladed, became a strong arm in handball and started to chisel up my soft side. That summer I anticipated being transferred out and I was playing basketball with my friends and I heard a pop in my back. I felt like my middle was jelly, so I went home and told my mother. The pain was paralyzing to say the least. I ended up having scoliosis surgery with instrumentation and infusion of a surgical steal rod from my hip to shoulder, which consisted of my whole spine (Cervical Vertebrae, Thoracic Vertebrae and Lumbar Vertebrae). This was not the new lapriatric type of procedure but the old kind and the scar is about 1 inch wide and in the center of my entire back. I had over a thousand stitches, staples, and ended up losing sensation on my left side of my body. I had lost blood and almost didn’t survive the operation. During this time my mom moved us to Woodhaven, Queens, NY. When I had come home, I need physical therapy often and I was told that I probably won’t be able to walk.
My mother made an appointment with the social security office and we had multiple visits for aide. She then explained that I would need disability care for the rest of my life. I was determined to not give up and I asked her to transfer me to the local High School, and that I want to live and not be unable to live my life. With my grandparents help they enrolled me into Franklin K Lane High School, which was on the borderline of Brooklyn and Queens.
At first glance, I was so impressed to go here. I am from the city we dont have green fields, a campus as majestic as this. My new neighbors who were my age that attended there warned me that this school was rough. However, I am from LES and I wasn’t afraid I was focused.
Everyday I would leave my house two hours before school and walk to school. My school wasn’t far away you can get there on foot in fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, I had to wear a body brace and walk with brace support cane. It was painful and slow but my new neighbors helped me all the time as they would sometimes walk with me.
I academically fell behind because I missed so much school due to my operation. So I enrolled in night school and summer school determined to graduate ahead. I also maintained my physical strength at home doing minimal exercises to build stamina. I finally, got my diploma six months before my cohort. I felt amazing. Also, wanted to mention that if this school seemed familiar it was the school from Spider-man: Homecoming; awesome right!
Many times in my life when I was feeling happy devastation would occur. I had to learn quickly to overcome to survive. Soon after I graduated my mother got very ill and we thought she was invincible. In 2000, my mother had passed away and this was unexpected and I needed time to deal with this pain while I was attending college locally, at the Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC), which is part of City University of New York (CUNY). I kept my studies going and attended all my classes. However, while I was there I worked within the World Trade Center. I knew everyone in the building, From the security, porters, cleaners, management, office workers because they were all my customers and on one beautiful day in September all of that was taken away from all of us; the city. I lost friends, clients and my school was used to house bodies pulled from the rubble of the terrorist attack that struck our city. A devastating event that made me push pause on life again.
It was years later that I decided to go back to school. I was now married with a baby and I took it one step at a time. I was now living in queens enrolled in LaGuardia Community College. I was an honor student, Phi Theta Kappa and anticipating graduation for September 2010 with my Associates degree in Paralegal Studies, which was also a CUNY. I was also pregnant and about to give birth. I finally, graduated and my baby was ten days old and there I was with my graduation class who happened to be ten years younger than me. My family attended including both my sons.
I then attended another college, New York City College of Technology and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Technology, which was also a CUNY. I published from the Emerging Scholars Program: Law, privacy & Technology: Is emerging regulation a constitutional reality or an urban legend fallacy. This article received recognition from our schools City Tech Writer. The feeling of recognition made me strive for better. I was able to graduate with my good friend and accomplish another goal at my own pace.
I felt very accomplished, although I knew many of my friends and family already had this, this was my dream coming true.
In 2019, we were now living in New Jersey and I decided to now enroll into Berkeley College for my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. I have been doing everything I can to graduate by the end of Fall 2020. I am now faced with a new challenge. Due to COVID, I recently became unemployed so I truly need to keep my purse tight and had to drop one course in order to maintain my family budget/expenses. That means that this course will be pushed into Spring 2021. I was planning to enroll in a PhD program for 2021, however I have learned many things in this journey of my #Fannytasticlife and the most valuable thing I can share that is relevant to this story is the following:
It is with every obstacle and challenge that molded me to the person I am today, not everything was handed to me and in every instance I had to renavigate and carve my new path, which led me to a greater good of self development, mindfulness and inner motivation. The value is finding the courage and the willingness to just keep going.
This means that I can not give up on my path and now I need to reevaluate and create a new path to carve steadfast in my goals and agenda.
This is not the moment of woe, as I dont attend pity parties and certainly won’t RSVP to them. Although I have been through so much, I had to learn that there is never a moment of setback because we have one life to live and one try at it. Therefore, each moment is very special and valuable to learn from and reevaluate yourself.
I am always in a a mental position to pivot with the readiness to learn. This is how I have maintained and will continue to have a #Fannytasticlife!