Nearing the end of my 10-year college program


Ashley Onzuka

Just one more semester

By Sheehan Chase, Staff Writer

For some people school comes as second nature, and earning a college degree is not that difficult for them. Yet for others, myself included, the same “four-year program” can end up taking twice as long. College for me has been a long, hard fought 10-year battle, filled with trail and adversity. After dropping out, coming back, dropping out again, and changing my major multiple times I am now just one semester away from finally graduating.

My 10-year program began in 2007 when I graduated from a private “college-prep” high school in San Francisco. The expectations were high for me as many of my friends would be accepted into prestigious universities all over the country. But at 18 years old I was more fascinated with weed, women, and aspirations of becoming the next big Bay Area rapper, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to school for another four years.

At that time in my life, I placed little value in attending college and even less on the sacrifice that my parents had made for my education. Despite the naive vision of fame and fortune I had for myself coming out of high school, my father quickly grounded me in reality and demanded that I go to college. The rules were simple: He would completely finance four consecutive years, no breaks. So with much reluctance, I applied and was accepted into San Jose State University where I majored in criminal justice.

Declaring a major was a surreal experience for me, I realized it would dictate my life path and possibly limit me to that one thing indefinitely. For the record, forcing an 18-year-old to make such an important decision is not cool and should be outlawed. This is one of the main problems with our education system and it should be corrected, but that’s a different story entirely.

I choose to squander (party) away the opportunity my parents had given me and shortly after the start of my Freshmen year I was placed on administrative probation. School was not my number one priority at that time, nor was it my second, third, or forth. What I called “livin’ my life,” the behavior review board at SJSU called “illegal,” and I was subsequently kicked out of the dorms. Instead of appealing the review boards decision I admitted defeat and dropped-out completely, convincing myself that I was better off without school.

After working a wide range of menial jobs for minimum wage I quickly realized just how necessary education is. Without a degree my career options were extremely limited, and I would have never been able to afford the lifestyle I want for myself and eventual family.

Although difficult for me to admit, my dad was right the whole time.

In Fall 2015, I applied to and was accepted into Chaminade University, and this time I would be paying for my own education. For me, the financial reality of paying for tuition was all the motivation I needed and it helped me stay focused.

Now I am just one semester away from graduating, only 15 more units from achieving that long-awaited goal. And in five more months I will walk across that stage with my head held high, take that piece of paper, and celebrate proudly with my family.

Through dedication and hard work I persevered, and with the loving support of my family I am looking forward to what’s lies next,  the real challenge of paying off these loans begins. I need a job.