8: From Maybe to MBA

8: From Maybe to MBA

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

From Maybe to MBA

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.

~Ella Fitzgerald

I’m about to receive a BA from Florida Atlantic University, and I was recently accepted into the MBA program at the University of North Carolina. Not bad for someone who almost failed high school, right?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a burning desire to become the biggest success my family has ever seen. I am the youngest of three girls, and like many “babies,” I fought for my parents’ attention. You see, although I come from a great family, with strong bonds, we were, at best, an average, middle-class family. Mom and Dad were always working, and my sisters made just enough trouble to keep my parents’ attention. Because I really was a good kid, my sisters — and their escapades—made it very easy for me. My parents were so preoccupied with my sisters, they didn’t notice when I began struggling in school. After all, as the good kid, I’d never needed them to notice before. But that “goodness” didn’t give me immunity from the poor choices that put me on track to fail high school.

It wasn’t until my first year of high school that I realized how much courage it would take to succeed as a teenager. As soon as freshman year rolled around, all of my friends were suddenly consumed with alcohol and drugs. Few were concerned with their grades or excelling in much of anything at that point. Of course, I tried to be the good example. For a long time, my friends used me as the “go-to” person when they got in trouble—sort of a teenaged Dear Abby. But before long, my own grades — and interest in my own success — dwindled and disappeared. I went from being an A student to earning mostly Bs, and before I knew it, merely passing became my goal.

I’m not sure exactly what hit me, but I remember waking up one morning thinking “who is this person I’ve become?” That thought was immediately followed by another: “This needs to change, and it needs to change right now.” That was my epiphany. Suddenly I began focusing only on my schoolwork, convinced that if I let myself fail, I would continue to fail for the rest of my life. And that was my biggest fear.

Almost immediately, my crowd of friends changed, my grades improved, and I assumed the attitude of a positive and determined student. By the end of the second semester I had raised my grades from Cs and Ds to all As (again). I worked hard to get into honors classes and, in my sophomore year, I was officially invited to be a part of the honors committee. From the beginning of my sophomore year until the end of my senior year, I was an honors student, earning almost all As. In my senior year I looked around and realized that all of the people I had surrounded myself with during my freshman year were gone. At some point, they had all dropped out. Some were in jail, others on probation, and the rest were still trying to “live life in the fast lane.” None of them had realistic goals. I still, to this day, cannot express the triumph I felt the day when I realized that I had finally “made it.”

I excelled academically in my last three years of high school, and I graduated with a 3.7 GPA — just five one-hundredths of a point away from graduating with honors. I worked hard to graduate in January rather than June, and I was awarded a scholarship that paid for 75% of my undergrad tuition.

My high school GPA and my financial situation chose my college for me: I attended the community college close to home and earned my Associates degree two years later. Once again, I felt like I really “made it.” I entered Florida Atlantic University, a state university close to home. What can I say? I guess I was comfortable at home. Now I’m living in another state, but I’m finishing my undergraduate degree through distance learning, and the end is in sight. I’ve applied for and, contingent on attaining my undergrad degree on time, have been accepted to the MBA program at the University of North Carolina. I’ve “made it,” once again!

I’m on my way to becoming what I want to be, but I almost settled for what I could have been. I realize now that there is no limit to what I can do when I set my mind to it. It is true, after all, that there are no limits to personal success, and that dreams can come true — with hard work and determination!

~Marie Franqui

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