Hi I’m Ashley Earp! I know everyone thinks of the ideal college life as fresh out of high school looking forward to making their dreams come true and having new experiences in a new atmosphere. However, in today’s society it sometimes isn’t possible or is thrown away all to easily. I was one of those people, I was rebellious and way to careless after highschool and I attended 1 semester of college. Now that I am 25 and a working, married mother of 2 young kids I am also a college student. I work 40+ hours a week, take my daughter to school, take care of my wounded veteran husband and manage to maintain a 95% average in all of my classes for healthcare administration and nursing. I also run a small business from my home as well!
I recently was searching for jobs to do from home when I came across Madame Deals “Work at Home” section. After scrolling through a few things I saw her Writers Needed post. I am a freelance writer for a few different places so I decided to look into it and see what she was looking for. Under the topics I saw college life, and I immediately sent her an email with a pitch.
Everyone see’s college students as fresh out of high school, ready to take on the new experience of college and everything that comes with it. What you usually don’t envision is a 25 year old mother of two, working 40+ hours a week, running a business from home, taking care of an injured veteran husband and still managing to maintain a 95% average in all classes. That is me!
I attempted to go to college right out of high school, for pre-med/pre-vet studies. I lasted about a semester because, like a lot of teenagers, my priorities were extremely skewed. I dropped out of college, moved to Texas with a friend and lived there for 5 years. Granted it was a good thing for me, I met my now husband while he was stationed at Fort Hood, I lived the military life and was a happy Army wife the whole time.
I had our first daughter while my husband was deployed, going through the last 6 months of pregnancy alone and delivering alone is not a great experience but it was what had to be done. There were other women in the unit’s FRG going through the same thing so we all kind of leaned on each other. It was during the time I was alone that I started thinking I wanted to go back to school, so I contacted the local Central Texas College and worked on getting enrolled. Unfortunately, there was an extremely long waiting list to get into the nursing program I wanted so it put a damper on my plans.
Life went on after my husband got home and it was put on the back burner. Shortly after returning home my husband began having flashbacks, bouts of depression, night terrors and suicidal tendencies. He was withdrawn and less affectionate toward me and our daughter but I thought it was just part of the readjustment. After a few months of these things progressively getting worse his Commanding Officer had him go get checked out and he ended up being admitted to a facility for observation for PTSD and TBI. He was gone for 3 months and, while we had an income, I still knew that I needed to get on the ball about going back to school. When he came home he had been diagnosed with severe PTSD and began the process for med board and transitioning to the Wounded Warrior Unit, he would be given either a medical discharge or be medically retired from the Army until he went through all of the evaluations and appointments we wouldn’t know which one. Amongst all of this I found out I was pregnant with our second baby, I had a lot of complications and after my first experience with the hospital on post my doctor decided I either needed to go to Austin for prenatal care or move home to Ohio where I could be seen by a specialist without having to jump through all the hoops. We decided moving home would be the best thing for me at the time and so I, being 20 weeks pregnant, booked a train ticket for my daughter and I and moved back to Ohio.
Everything with his retirement took MUCH longer than we expected, they had estimated he would be out by August 2010 and he wasn’t officially retired until December of 2011. I had chose to stay in Ohio to find us a place to live and get everything ready when he came up expecting only a few short months alone, after a year and a half I was beyond over living hand to mouth and supporting two households on one income.
I started working and enrolled in University of Phoenix with a major in healthcare administration. I had family breathing down my neck to “Do something.”, I was stuck in a rut, depressed and of course stressed. When I went in to meet with an enrollment advisor I was nervous, were they going to laugh at me? Would I not qualify for financial aide or grants? I met with a man named Larry and told him my situation, what my goals were and asked him all the things that were swirling around in my head. He was extremely helpful and showed me all of the requirements for the program, what I had to do, what the university offered and so much more. He even helped me fill out all of my FAFSA paperwork after I called him completely confused and lost! After a couple weeks I got a call from him saying I had been accepted and all of my financial aid information was taken care of, finished and turned in I could start in a week. I FINALLY felt like things were starting to fall into place.