68: A Boost to My Confidence

68: A Boost to My Confidence

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

A Boost to My Confidence

All glory comes from daring to begin.

~Eugene F. Ware

I had been invited by my principal to attend an educational convention where the guest speaker was Grace Corrigan, whose daughter Christa McAuliffe was the first teacher to be sent into space. During the lunch, I reflected on that tragic moment on January 28, 1986 when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded only a minute into its journey, with no survivors. On this day, Mrs. Corrigan would speak not of how her daughter died, but how she lived.

Not wanting to miss a second of her presentation, I slipped out to the ladies’ room before the program. On my return, I walked past another large, empty banquet room. The door was open and I saw a gray-haired woman, small in stature, sitting alone.

Worried that she might be sick or lost, I inquired, “Are you okay?”

Lifting her head and smiling she said, “Come on in. I’m fine, just gathering my thoughts.” She had me to sit down and right away she asked my name, but refrained from giving me hers. Within a matter of minutes we were carrying on a conversation like we’d known each other for years… more of her inquiring and me responding.

Interestingly, for the past few months I had been contemplating returning to college to complete my degree. It had been almost thirty-five years since I had walked the halls of higher education. In record time, I expressed my fear of being too old for the challenge. After about twenty minutes she kindly excused herself, but not without parting words of wisdom. Looking at me with a grin and a pat on my hand, she quietly said, “Cindy, it’s a big world out there. Don’t let time pass you by. Go for that knowledge you are searching for in life!” After giving me a big hug, she left the room, never having given me her name.

I was overwhelmed with inspiration. Feeling as if an angel had been sent from the heavens to encourage me, my confidence and resolve were recharged.

Returning to the conference, I began explaining the chance meeting to my principal. Finally, the MC introduced the guest speaker. Climbing the stairs was a gray-haired woman, small in stature. I choked up as I recognized my angel. Somehow, my path had crossed with Grace Corrigan’s, and now I was positive what my future would hold.

Within a few weeks, this fifty-two-year-old mother of four and grandmother of twelve was enrolled in a Women’s External Degree program. As I continued my full-time job as an elementary tutor, the road was not easy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess there were moments I was tempted to give up.

However, with the constant support of family and friends, I graduated in three years with academic honors. A few months later, I received a congratulatory note along with a photo of the Challenger crew from Grace wishing me luck on my future endeavors and reminding me to always keep the door open for my next adventure. My discovery? One is never too old to pursue a new dream… I’m living proof!

~Cindy L. Ely

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