Amanda Anderson thought she knew what she wanted in life, and then life happened. Now one class away from completing her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, Anderson was selected to give the student speech at the Southern Commencement for the School of Business and Professional Studies and the School of Education. She was nominated by her Santa Maria campus academic advisor, Donna Hiltner. Here’s what she prepared to deliver Sunday, May 21.
Have you ever sat down and looked at your life and thought “man, this is not where I pictured myself being!” I have! I always imagined myself to have a career in the Army and happily married with two children before I was 30. I am not where I had planned at all; my life turned into a mess and everything seemed to go downhill.
I received a medical discharge from the Army; the relationship I thought I would have was gone; then I got pregnant with no job. I couldn’t pay the bills. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of this child. I didn’t even know if I was going to be a good mother because I had already failed at my career and my relationship.
As the months passed and I got bigger and bigger, I got moodier and moodier; I felt like I was failing at being pregnant. Then on 13 September 2011, my life changed and I had this feeling of maybe I can do this, but that didn’t last long. I started feeling like a failure again because my newborn child would not sleep if she was laid down so I was not getting much sleep and I couldn’t figure out all the different cries.
I knew I was failing at being an adult. I had to tuck my tail between my legs and call my dad and ask him to help move me from back home. I had to ask my mom and stepfather if my newborn and I could stay with them till I could get back on my feet. Luckily for me, I have an amazing family who helped me and still helps me.
After moving back I had no idea what I was going to do, I was applying for jobs with no luck. Then someone mentioned going back to school. I half laughed because I thought I was too old to go back to school. After giving it some thought I did it. I went to Allan Hancock and enrolled in classes to get my associate degree, and that was tough. I felt like I was doing homework for days. It was never ending, but I made it. Started looking for jobs and saw the requirements section of all the job announcements “bachelor’s degree preferred.” So I talked with my voc rehab counselor and she told me to apply to Brandman University. So I did and I got accepted.
Then I started learning about the school and realized that it was a fast-paced school and there would be a lot of papers to write. That feeling of being a failure was coming back. I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish my bachelor’s. I had several meetings with Mrs. Donna Hiltner, and she could tell that I was not feeling good about taking classes. So she set up a plan with me to take classes slowly. She was great about not overloading me. After a few sessions in, I felt that I could do this, but then I looked at how many more classes I needed and I felt like I couldn’t do this. Mrs. Donna would take the time to meet, listen, and help me through all the decisions of which classes to take. What do you know, I am here today with only one more class to take and I did not fail at school. I stand here before all of you and say YOU CAN DO IT. I didn’t realize it had been me the entire time being hard on myself and I was the one that said I couldn’t do it. Life is a big roller coaster, Joe Nichols points out in his song “The Impossible”:
Unsinkable ships sink.
Unbreakable walls break.
Sometimes the things you think would never happen,
Happen just like that.
Unbendable steel bends.
If the fury of the wind is unstoppable,
I’ve learned to never underestimate,
Out of this entire journey I have learned that I was never a failure, I succeeded in my life. I thank Mrs. Donna Hiltner from the Santa Maria Campus for having faith in me to accomplish this goal. I thank my family for never giving up on me no matter what trouble I was in. Mom and Ricky for helping with my daughter so I could do homework. Finally, my daughter, for being the best child anyone could have asked for; just remember you can do anything you want. I love you guys.
Become a Student
Have questions about enrollment, degree programs, financial aid, or next steps?