My name is Leslie Bowering. I began my Adult College Prgram by taking part time classes toward an Early Childhood Education Degree. After exploring the possibilities with my most excellent advisor, I soon discovered that I could achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a Reading Specialist through a Certificate Program also offered at Granite State College. In order to do that, I consulted my adult education resources which included the Granite State College Course Description catalog to finely-tune the pathway I needed to follow to achieve my ultimate goal. I am now pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Language Arts, teaching certification, with a Reading Specialist Certification.
I am excited to be able to meet the challenges of my affordable Bachelor Degree because it is a dream come true for me. I have always been interested in higher education. I am an avid reader; one who loves to learn, assimilate, and process information in an educated and independent way.
I absolutely love teaching young children because they are happy when they are exploring their own ideas and most especially when they are learning to read. The children I have known, who have entered first grade not knowing how to read and finish first grade as young readers who love books and feel so good and confident about themselves while doing it, have made it my life's mission to inspire as many young children as I can, to love reading books.
Literacy is my deepest passion, although it is also my greatest fear for young children in today's world wide technosphere; a place where reading does not abide. The critical time frame for young children who will learn their basic reading skills has sadly decreased though the necessity of it is more vital than ever. So, it is my humble hope, to make a difference.
The coursework requirements for a Behavioral Science Degree involves in-depth research papers. EBSCO Host is provided through Granite State College for students to obtain the highest quality of peer-reviewed articles that can be used for any of their research purposes.
Research Papers are constructed from the "ground up" in Professor John Sparrow's course at Granite State College. He teaches students how to build knowledge on templates they have already acquired along the way.
The following is an example of an APA Style Research Paper section called the ABSTRACT from one of Granite State College's finest students:
The Architect: My Perception of 12 Angry Men
Donna M. Downes
Granite State College
After the judge advised the jury on the particulars of the law in regards to the case they just heard and reminding them of the concept “reasonable doubt”, the twelve men filed out of the courtroom and into the jury room. Each man brought with them personal “islands of meanings”(Zerubavel, 2007)…the perceptions formed by their individual experiences, socioeconomic status, culture, education, and beliefs. Each had developed their “own way of knowing” through their process of socialization. They are the products of their primary socialization processes having their perceptions formed and shaped by the influence of family values, beliefs and traditions and later by their secondary processes of socialization once exposed to a variety of new and/or different concepts held by their reference groups. In order to determine a verdict, they must be in total agreement. They must come to a consensus. Who better to build a consensus than an architect?
I have attached a link about Career Advice that may be helpful to students who are undecided about which course or academic direction they may want to take, whether they are attending classes in Rochester NH college, Concord NH college, Claremont NH college, or Manchester NH college campuses.
It is necessary to have a sense of what direction to take. Perhaps the use of a website like this one could help students decide whether they have a better aptitude for the Behavioral Sciences offered through Granite State College or maybe they are more inclined to pursue Early Childhood Education Classes there. Either way, the technology abounds to provide information when college Advisors are not available at the end of a telephone line. At least this website gives students someplace to start.
Adult Education is all about independently acquiring information, skills, and success. Technology is available to also help students form questions they need to ask of their Advisors.
Why not click on this website, dip your toes in and get yourself organized for the the Fall Semester. Granite State College empowers students to ask questions and achieve answers.
Today I am that much closer to reaching the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow! For me the Pot of Gold is my Bachelor's Degree in Language Arts
that I have been working very hard to achieve for a couple of years now.
The goals we set for ourselves must be reckoned with even when we are at the end of the rope of long hours studying. The center of my collegiate universe is the Granite State College Rochester NH college campus.
This morning as I ripped down the Spaulding Turnpike in my husband's hot black Mustang Cobra, it occurred to me that this drive, the three toll booths, and the wonderful destination itself would be ending in just another couple of months.
Today I met with my Advisor, Linda Buttrick, to discuss a proposal for my Capstone course -- my final course -- now that I have successfully taken all of my other required classes for my degree. I will be assigned a Mentor who will assist me in developing a topic of study that integrates what I know with what I have learned and how it can be applied to my career path. I am excited to begin the last leg of my journey!
When I first heard the word EXPLICATION I felt that sense of panic you get when someone has blind-folded you and turned you around a couple of times, then tells you to walk straight... it will be fine.
I really wasn't fine...until I looked up the definition of the word.
Dr. Imbrascio has been wonderful about giving explicit directions with her expectations in our hybrid British Literature course this summer at Granite State College. She is a new Instructor for us who also teaches Shakespeare at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. She is a British Literature enthusiast and we are extremely fortunate to have her.
I had never experienced the task of pulling apart a literary paragraph, defining, explaining the meanings, and writing an entire essay about it. These exercises stand on their own merit as to the quality of education I am so lucky to be experiencing at Granite State College in Rochester.
The focus of my paper was on Lady Bertilak, Lord Bertilak's wife. I was mesmerized by her overt behavior toward Sir Gawain, a most interesting writing topic. Bit by bit I chipped away at this newly acquired writing technique until I was able to hand in what I assessed as a fairly well-crafted paper.
Much to my surprise I received a raving review!
One sentence at a time, meeting each of these mighty challenges gets me closer to my college degree from Granite State College. So much more spice is added when I am fortunate enough to work with interested, vested Professors who care about my success as well. The Explication has been one of my favorite writing experiences so far, right up there with Dr. Quinn and Expository Writing!
Have you ever put off doing something you knew had to be done out of sheer fear of facing the demon? Have you asked yourself gnawing questions like can I do it or worse, can I get a passing grade? Are my writing skills good enough?
So far I have been holding my own. I have passed Expository Writing with a resounding A, I have written papers for Professor Nevins and my Media is the Message course which I have passed successfully without fear-based effort. Writing skills at Granite State College are a top priority. Writing papers for the courses are an integral part of the assessment process. Good writing communicates what you have learned from books and conversations to the next level.
My most challenging writing struggle has been the Compare/Contrast component integrated with courses such as Multicultural Literature and Short Fiction.
COMPARE/CONTRAST ESSAY WRITING
My Independent Learning Contract with Barbara Benham has been a significant challenge for me. However, Barbara is a dedicated Instructor who has been wonderfully communicative. She has informed me of my writing strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to Compare/Contrast pieces.
As for her literary choices, I absolutely loved reading the Short Story by James Baldwin called Sonny's Blues just as much as I enjoyed reading The Conscience of the Court by Zora Neal Hurston.
Peeling away at literary layers is much like peeling an onion. The more layers you peel off the deeper the story affects you.
When you are fortunate enough not only to have an Instructor who knows good literature and how to teach it, but is also willing to be certain you understand the particular components expected in writing papers, then you have probably met your instructor at Granite State College.
It has taken me a while to grasp this kind of writing so it is not an impossible feat. Contrast writing is special because it requires skills I do not use in everyday writing. I am more used to opining than I care to admit. I am also used to emoting feelings into my writing that are inappropriate for scholarly essays.
Since I am more than half way through the semester with one paper left to write in my Short Fiction Summer credited course, I think I have finally succeeded in my dedicated effort to grasp Compare/Contrast papers, even though I put it off for as long as I possibly could. Some college courses are more prickly than others but they are doable if you stay focused on the prize!
Professor Agran encourages us to glean courageously what we can from the tapestries of our own personal lives and to say it plain.
English 604-- Creative Writing: Poetry, Fiction, & Creative Nonfiction is a cumulative effort for the students in Professor Agran's summer class but we seem to be having fun at the same time.
We read a lot. We write much. We share every written thought we scribble with one another. Writing is a risky business but we are dedicated to the learning process, aspiring to become more...more articulate, more prolific, but we are also learning to become more patient with ourselves in this delicate balance.
Alicia Otis is a student in my Granite State College Creative Writing class. She is a highly motivated writer who enjoys the writing process as much as I. The following poem is written by Alicia as an assignment, but I think also as an enjoyable event in her young, free-spirited life:
To my favorite beach in Maine.
Where big white waves bring in the tide,
And the horizon looks a mile wide.
I've got my flip flops, bathing suit,
And a tank full of gas,
I'm Carefree, but I have no cash.
Tourists crowd the sidewalk,
Buying lime green taffy makes them smile.
We park the car and start our long walk,
Sun tan lotion and beach chairs,
On every inch of sand,
This is my world of no cares,
Among the thin and tanned.
By Alicia Otis
For many people, the beach represents life lived in one way or another. The ocean is a source of solace for me after long arduous homework assignments from the three different courses I am taking this summer to complete my Bachelor's Degree in Language Arts at Granite State College.
Alicia's young free spirit is a reminder to me that I must stop and take a break, regroup, and begin anew.
By June of next summer I will be a Granite State graduate as I walk along the shores of my own precious North Beach. I miss her today but it will be worth every moment of study when I am holding my degree from Granite State College in my hot little hands one year from now. Revisiting.
So, thank you Alicia for gently reminding me of those past though not forgotten carefree beach days in my own utopic paradise!
My friend Donna deserves to have fireworks for the rest of her life for she has truly earned them! In June 2010 she graduate from Granite State College with a GPA of 3.93! As important as her grades are, they only give us a sliver of a glimpse into who this woman really is and where she is headed in life.
Donna fits the demographic of the typical Granite State College Adult Learner to a tee. She has lived a life of many years previous to setting and meeting Adult College Courses; she got married, became a mother, then a step-mother, while working at many different jobs along the way. For instance, in 1973 Donna was the first woman hired at the Hampton Toll Booth in New Hampshire. She was eventually "retired" from this position at the age of 25 because she was pregnant and "everybody would know what she had done to be in that condition."
As Donna continued to have children she continued to change jobs for different reasons. In 1993 she began a degree program because the company she worked for planned to downsize. But as her children began to attend college Donna's plan was set aside money in an effort to support the ambitions of her children and to also pay their tuition.
Miracles do happen! In 2009 after Donna's company closed its doors she was free to complete her Bachelor of Science degree at Granite State College in Rochester through the Trade Act. With the help of her dedicated and efficient Advisor, Linda Buttrick, Donna was quickly enrolled into classes in July of 2009.
In order to graduate, Donna's ambitious goal included the completion of nine courses. Through the Trade Act she was required to take two courses per semester which meant she had to take three courses for the last semester.
An example of Donna's Adult College Program palette includes fun courses like Software Tools and Interpersonal Communications, which she took as Online Classes for Adults. In the Fall she took The Principles of Assessments, Introduction to Research in Behavioral Science and Sociology which was a bit more challenging for her. But lets revisit her GPA of 3.93 for a moment, which speaks to the astute characteristics of dedication and determination most adult learners already posses when they arrive at Granite State College.
Self-determined to succeed because "failure was not an option," Donna met with Nicole McMillan in the writing lab to set up a study schedule and to make appointments to proof-read Donna's prolific works. Once she was settled in her daily routine of good consistent study habits, Donna went on to complete every single course required of her to meet the standard qualifications for the degree she ardently pursued.
I had the wonderful honor and enjoyment of meeting Donna while we were enrolled in Professor Sparrow's course, The Principles of Assesments, Introduction to Research in Behavioral Science and Sociology. During that time I learned about Donna's love of fiction writing which added yet another dimension to an amazing multidimensional person I will not soon forget.
Bring your creativity! Bring your diversity! Bring an insatiable appetite for the learning process and you too will fit right in. When Donna arrived she made the learning process her own, until ultimately she reached her own seemingly unobtainable heights!
Good Luck Donna!
My Adult College Education has motivated me to accept every challenge put forth even when there have been times when I thought I might not achieve the success I sought. Through countless hours of reading, studying, researching, and writing I have tried very hard to focus on the fruits of my labor.
One of the Summer courses I am taking toward my degree in Language Arts through Granite State College is a hybrid course. A hybrid course is a combination of face to face instruction and integrative interaction consisting of students and instructor communicating intellectually through a virtual classroom called Blackboard.
I will be sitting in front of a computer screen for most of the summer but one thing I know for sure, I will be taking my laptop to the sea at dusk.
School's out for Summer! Except that it isn't really out for me! Instead, I have taken a little reprieve by attending the Vermont Balloon Festival with my daughter while I wait for classes to begin again.
This summer my adult college classes will include a very special hybrid course in British Literature which I am very excited to attend. Dr. Imbracsio has graciously agreed to special scheduling for students requiring this particular class in order to graduate in December.
I will also take my Short Fiction course with Professor Benham as an Independent Learning Contract. But the most challenging course I am taking this summer will be Creative Writing with Professor Agran.
It may seem like I am achieving an accelerated adult degree but I am not, although such a degree program is available at Granite State College. I am merely taking three courses this summer to accelerate my own personal progress toward my graduation goal.
Often throughout my Language Arts studies success has seemed like a worthy opponent but I have stoically stayed the course.
Taking breaks is important. Getting out into the wide open spaces clears a well-exercised brain. I enjoyed my day in Vermont even though our Hot Air Balloon ride was cancelled due to an imminent storm coming in from Schenectady, New York.
And now I am ready to continue.
Recently I joined my Granite State College Advisor, Linda Buttrick, for lunch at the brand new Granite State College offices and classrooms in Rochester, New Hampshire. I am so happy that finally, the wonderful individuals who work diligently to see to it that their students have everything they need to succeed in their college endeavors, have settled into a space that is freshly new, brightly lit, and inviting to all who go there.
It was wonderful to walk up the front steps to the entrance facing the enormous Granite State College sign attached to the side of the building, knowing how special I felt to be a part of this grand advancement for my learning institution.
High Tech computer systems have been installed in each classroom. New carpeting and freshly painted walls are perks but what I loved most of all about the new classroom I visited was the presence of the Harkness table. The Harkness method of teaching, a method we have often attempted to imitate by moving the old classroom tables into Harkness positions, models learning as an equal opportunity for students and Instructors. The new classroom begins this process with a large and lovely table that fills the room.
Learning in our new classrooms should be a breeze! I am excited to get started with my Summer courses which include Short Fiction, British Literature, and Creative Writing, all of which I just know I am going to love learning about at our new Granite State College Learning Center in Rochester, New Hampshire.
During the planning stages of our trip I really don't know why we didn't take the train but I now wish we had because,although there are many ways to navigate a situation, none of them seem to allow for the most direct route.
My use of media outlets as discussed in my course Media and Its Message that I am presently taking at Granite State College in the form of an Independent Learning Contract, consisted of the following methods.
First, I used my home computer and printed directions to my daughter's apartment building thinking I would recognize Congress Street in Portland when I saw it but ... of course I did not. It turns out the directions I was given by MapQuest were different from the last set I used when my husband drove us into Portland.
Also, my friend brought along her GPS as a back-up plan in case the printed directions confused us which of course they did. The GPS method of navigation is extremely confusing to me because I cannot listen to the voice in the box while I am driving in unfamiliar territory so she silenced it and read the directions but she did not tell me where to turn quickly enough and so began the "Driving in Circles" method of navigating that is oh so familiar to me, my driving default! Finally, when I recognized the Museum from a previous visit, I called my daughter on her phone which I have dubbed her Blueberry (Blackberry) to tell her we were nearby and to ask where to turn next.
And though I may pride myself in my diligence to complete my Granite State College coursework as an adult learner, I know that I must reconcile myself to the fact that, even though there are many media available to me, some of them are no doubt, going to take much long to master than others.
Needless to say, I endured the rolling of my daughter's beautiful eyes as she hugged me, no doubt grateful she did not have to scrape me and my Mustang off of some unsuspecting soul who just happened to be crossing the street as I roared aimlessly into Portland last night.
If we are willing spirits we are high-minded individuals to embrace all the new knowledge that streams through our brains in our continuing efforts to pursue our education but it is a vast landscape that unfolds before us and we must choose the adult educational challenges that mean the most to us at any given time. I may never master a GPS but I much prefer to master my Language Arts Program at Granite State College so that I can actually graduate in December 2010.
I, for one am proud of the fact that I drove the car there and made it safely home again so I could sit here today and write about it!
Are you thinking about taking classes? Are you a little frightened because you don't know if you can achieve success but you are passionate about learning and growing? It is not always easy to take that leap of faith. Sometimes education can leave you asking more questions than when you began.
That is how it has been for me but what I have realized most recently is that I have been digging my heels in and resisting some of the challenges because flexing my own mental muscle can be difficult sometimes.
Fortunately, when I discovered a disconnect between what I was learning and what I thought I already knew I had the added benefit of tapping in to the knowledge base of the Associate Dean at Granite State College who also teaches Expository Writing because she loves it.
Make no mistake. Learning curves exercise the brain but they also have an extraordinary purpose in the educational process. There is a certain excitement when I can finally reach that "aha" moment -- that moment when I finally get it!
Today I finally get the idea and purpose of Literary Criticism, a form of writing I have been resisting for a year. Because I need to do this writing in order to complete my Language Arts Degree, I have been working very hard to understand it in this current semester. But I have been taking the criticism of my own writing personally. Have you ever found yourself taking writing criticism personally? Well, I think it is because we are caught in the trap of believing that all writing is the same but it is not.
Some writing is done from a distance. It is done after you have taken a good look at another piece of writing with the idea of disassembling it, perhaps to discover how it was originally constructed in the first place. And now that I have a better understanding of the purpose of this kind of writing, I am certain I can be more successful at completing my assignments.
At Granite State College you will be able to tap into the knowledge of many people who understand the challenges of adult education. They are excited to see us achieve success and they care about the outcomes.
"Cut" goes on to describe the tormented life of a young girl trying desperately to escape those difficult high school years; the sad memories of feeling invisible so many of us have also stored away in our hysterical archives of youth.
And then, like a gavel slamming down on a bench the rejection slips from colleges begin to roll in and with them the devastation of shame no child should bear. The verdict was in according to them: "Not good enough" was the message.
Although many would have thrown in the towel at that point, Ashlee did not. Instead, she discovered a future of possibilities. Granite State College was the beacon as Ashlee moved slowly but surely toward the light. Through Granite State College she has achieved her Associates degree as she diligently presses on with her studies to earn her Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education.
At twenty-one years old Ashlee is one of the brightest and the best in expressing herself in my American Literature class. It is an honor to have the privilege of knowing her and her story of perseverence. I am proud of her for never giving in to the negativity, choosing instead, to press on.
For now she is manifesting her own destiny. We could all learn a lesson from her.
We, at Granite State College embrace her as one of our own for she has learned at a very young age what many of us don't learn until we are much older: Our dreams are important. They really do matter. We can make them come true.
So I left the house this morning at 6:30 am to take my four mile walk. And while I was walking I thought about the paper I had to write for my American Literture course that I am taking at the Manchester branch of Granite State College. It needs to be a Compare and Contrast paper that discusses the literary differences between Tennessee Williams and Charles Durang who have each written their own play.
Williams is the playwright who wrote The Glass Menagerie while Durang is the playwright of For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls. I loved The Glass Menagerie but I did not enjoy the parody Durang wrote at all. And I know why too. I don't enjoy being made fun of and I don't like it when it is done to anyone.
But I will tell you one thing. When you are a student at Granite State College and you have instructors who have strong opinions of what they believe is the correct or incorrect way to think about a piece of literture, it is extremely important that you know what you think critically as well as emotionally so that you will be able to do good writing when you have to which means you have to back up the stand you make.
When I make my case to my Granite State College Intructor, I know that I must use solid evidence from the pieces of writing I have read so that my argument will stand up. I need to understand that my Instructor has high expectations in the quality of work I present to him.
It took me approimately one hour to walk four miles this morning but by the time I finished I had a good sense of what I would write. Walking is an excellent way for me to focus because I do not take an ipod or any other media device with me when I walk. I am alone with my thoughts and I am working out and getting energized for the day all at the same time.
And now my draft is done and ready for class tonight. Phew! Glad to have it done for sure. I need a break!
The course is called The Media and its Messages so the first thing I have been asked to do as an exam component is to track my own personal media use for a total of five days.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered how much I access different media sources during the course of a day (and evening); I who use a cell phone for emergencies, a laptop only when I am in Northern Maine in summer and don't know how to use my DVD player even when I would like to.
My GSC Instructor gave me an eye-opening exercise that makes me more aware of how much television, computer, and radio time I actually do use in spite of my own resistence to it at times.
Now that I have gathered this information I must write an essay about the mass medium I use most in my life. Although I have not tallied the results as of this posting I do think it will definitely be a toss-up between television and computer because, since I have been at Granite State College my use of the computer has risen to an all-time though unepceted high. Through Granite State College I have taken the basic level computer course that is offered to bring me up to speed. I have also learned to do my research through EBSCO host which is an awesome virtual library and I have grown to rely on it as an outstanding source of solid peer-reviewed information. And now I am a blogger. Who knew?
Tomorrow I will tally my results and begin my essay. I am ready to get started up yet another rung of my Granite State College ladder to success!
Because I stay at home it would be easy to procrastinate; it would also be horrible to waste the time I have been given. So, for the past couple of years I have kept a study/work schedule to help me stay focused but I have also kept a class calendar on my desk to track due dates and class times. When they are available I do take more than one of my required classes each semester because I am very excited to reach my goal which is my Bachelor's Degree in Language Arts.
This semester at Granite State College is quite different from others because I do not go to the Rochester Campus at all. I must say I do miss seeing the friendly faces of the staff and faculty I have come to know and enjoy so much as part of my academic career. However, because my required work is decreasing the course I needed this semester was being offered only in Mancheter, New Hampshire.
I am also working on an Independent Learning Contract for the course called Media and It's Message which I am loving. It is an amazing course in media madness and awareness of our own involvement in it. It is time to take my midterm exam for the Media class which consists of writing an essay about my personal experience with it and how it affects my life.
Early on I learned one good thing about my school work routine. I think so much better about my papers due while I am walking the streets of Exeter than anywhere else on earth, probably because it is such a lovely town that lends itself to the beauty all around us here, as if it is a protective shield keeping us safe. That is, until we turn on the radio, television, or read the next newspaper in our midst.
But I did not have to turn on the radio or television this morning. I did not have to pick up the newspaper and take a glance, not before during or after my walk. You see, as I walked through the parkway gate lost in my own little world of media madness and the question of what shall I write, I sauntered right past him. That's right. I saw him... out of the corner of my eye sitting right there on the bench proudly, confidently, and quietly talking to his friends. What did I see you ask? Well, I saw the camo pants and shirt with rolled up sleeves. I saw his green beret tipped ever so slightly to the right. Still, I did not see his face or his eyes. No I did not see them -- not until I turned around and walked back to him -- not until I walked right up to him, held out my right hand to his and said, "Thank you for all that you do" as I firmly shook his precious, healthy, strong hand. It was at that very moment when he looked up into mine that I had the honor and privliege of looking into his beautiful, kind blue eyes that swept over my face like stardust.
His is the face we will not see in the newspaper. His is the face of America and the love affair of its Patriots. His is the face of our youth who stand tall and proud among us while they knowingly sacrifice a life of privilege to keep our country safe.
Sometimes the strongest message we will never hear is the message the media doesn't tell us.
Little did I know when I ventured out from under my comfy, protective rock the twists and turns of enlightment my precious journey would take.
Today is the day I will finish the book Media Studies An Introduction by Robert Kolker which is the text for my Independent Learning Contract with Professor Craig Nevins. With this amazing book in hand I have time-traveled far and wide from the days of newspapers and yellow journalism to a new millenium crampack filled with the next greatest things from myspace.com to the latest and greatest notepad that is all the rage as I write this blog.
As the saying goes, "I didn't know what I didn't know!" One thing I do know for sure, I am more informed about the media and the way it has massaged me over the past 50 years of my life. I am also less paralyzed than I was before I began this course because I now have a backdrop from which to go forward into future learning efforts of my precious education, most especially where technology and media are concerned.
During these past couple of years at Granite State College I have experienced some stunning revelations after finishing most of my courses. But I have waited and resisted this course about media studies for a couple of reasons, fear being the most significant one of all. I was afraid I didn't have enough knowledge base to take this course because I really don't keep current with the latest and greatest techno-inventions. Frankly I would rather be hiking along "The Road Not Taken" than sitting in front of my computer screen, that is, until Blogging arrived in my life.
My second reason for resisting this course is more about my lack of interest in technology that has remanded me to the prison of my own ignorance. It is good that I have finally taken this course because I have enjoyed learning how far we have progressed in this country. We do have the best and brightest minds in the world who are truly the visionaries of our evolvement.
I am unafraid to learn more about the technical developments though I must concede, I will live forever in total fear of the daze and gaze of the advertising world and its incessant sales pitch.
So, even if "Media and it's Message" is a general requirement in any particular course of study, I now understand what it brings to my well-rounded Liberal Arts Education at Granite State College.
Recently I was fortunate to meet Amber Card who is one of the students in a Survey of American Literature course I attend on Tuesday evenings at the Manchester, New Hampshire branch of Granite State College. Like myself, Amber is taking the course as a core requirement of a Language Arts Degree. She is also intending to achieve teaching certification as part of her education.
One evening before class I took the opportunity to interview her as a military veteran and as a continuing educational student at Granite State. She shared with me some of the daunting facts about her enlistment and her tour of duty. Amber participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. She was deployed from December 7, 2003 - March 2, 2005. During this time she worked as a Motor Transportation Specialist where she drove 5 tons, semi-tractor trailers and humvees. She pulled security for convoys, delivered supplies to troops including mail, food, and ammo. She also pulled security for the base and transported troops. Amber was also a Mortuary Affairs Specialist.
She briefly shared with me her thoughts and feelings about her military service. "I wouldn't necessarily change it but it was a very hard experience at 21 to absorb. It made me grow up very quickly and realize what was important in my life. I had to set new priorities."
When I said the word "horrible" and asked her about her immediate thoughts she said, " It was very real and you had to take the good with the bad. Five of my friends died over there and I'll never forget it but there's not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate what I have and realize what my friends gave up for me. That's why I feel I always push myself to go the extra mile.
Lastly, I asked Amber about her most significant experience. To this she replied, "Is when we had just moved into Iraq from Kuwait and within 24 hours our base got attacked and we lost someone and several were injured. It really changes your perspective right off the bat!"
Since my interview with Amber I listen more closely to everything she has to say in class. Immediately I notice the difference in the attention and detail she gives to the learning process. She speaks with such devotion and compassion about the children she will someday soon be teaching upon graduation from Granite State College this June. She is also pregnant with her second child, a boy. And one thing I do know for sure about Amber: She values life. She also values education and children.
Though I am much older than Amber I am humbled by her maturity and all that she has experienced in her very young life. Experience when it does not kill us most certainly makes some of us stronger. I am a better person for having met Amber and learned about her past life and her future goals. As a woman among many she stands tall and proud in my eyes.
David Fowler's story bridges the gap once and for all between the dark side of war and the humanity we so often lose sight of whenever we are forced to think about the job descriptions of the military among us.
Because of David's story it is fitting that I would meet him in my Children's Literature class at Granite State College. Although he made it very clear he did not like reading books it became more and more evident that he did love children.
It was on the night of his Lesson Plan presentation which he did no teaching children how to use a compass, that I put two and two together... I just knew that David was in the U.S. Military. After class I decided to ask him.
It turns out not only was David a Staff Sargeant in the Army, he had also completed Paramedic School, Parachuting School, and Ranger School. He had also completed the prestigious School of Leadership that taught him how to be a leader in horrifc circumstances.
Before attending Granite State College, David had already been stationed at Fort Benning, GA, Hawaii, Iraq for 15 months, and Afghanistan for 13 months. Now he was enrolled at Granite STate College in the Military Science Program in which he completed a four - year program in 2 - years, finishing up the last four credits with our Children's Literature course.
I wanted to know about David's experience with Counter Sniper Intelligence in Iraq and David was kind enough to share a brief version of his story with me.
He also told me the story of a six year old little boy he met in a little village in Afghanistan where the people lived in huts without well water. David arrived in the village with other soldiers and most kids ran away from them but one little boy asked David, "Mr. are you really going to eat me?" It was this question from such an innocent child that forever changed David's perspective as he began to explain from his own prism of the Boogey Man he knew as a child, how the military was there in the village to help them.
When they returned once again to the same village, David and the other soldiers helped to build wells. They dropped off food such as peanuts and grain. They passed out notebooks and pens. The kids there dictated a lot because they are the ones who know math and English.
Well, one day as David was outside working, the little boy came running up to him. "Mr, " he said. "You need to go. Bad men are coming." Everyone ran off then and it was the last time David saw the boy. But he heard the rockets....
The boy had tried to warn him. David was no longer the Boogey Man.
David completed his program at Granite State College which would allow him to become a Cadette and then a Lieutenant in the Army which was his goal. The little boy in Afghanistan had changed his life and David had achieved is goals.
Ben had decided to further his education when he returned from his second requested tour in Iraq. I was interested to learn more about his desire to complete his education because he had informed me that he would reenlist once finished with his program.
There was something special about the way Ben carried himself. He was much more mature than an average twenty-five year old man. He was kind, pleasant, and aburst with energy which I enjoyed in our classroom each Thursday evening. But the most important thing about Ben was that he loved to laugh outloud. And, when he did, his entire face lit up and his eyes got bright than his brilliant teeth!
When I imagine Ben as a Military Police in Iraq, I can picture a strong and determined man dressed in camo who loves his life and his country; someone who has a good head on his shoulders and is willing to look out for others.
Ben is an intelligent man with a good mind who seems to want to learn more so he can return to the military with a new sense of purpose and to make a difference.
There is a certain resilience about Ben Smart that impressed me from our first night in class. When we had a discussion about his final paper, he told me some of what he was researching about military intelligence in Iraq but it was not focused on people or the more emotional details of his military experience. Instead, he was interested to learn more about the details of what was going on there and why.
Pinning Ben down and getting him to say more was a tricky feat because he skimmed just the surface of all I would have like to have learned from him. But I understand ... I picked up on Ben's distance from his own experience as a means of survival. He detached himself which is what he probably needs to do.
In the end, it is his laughter I will remeber whenever I think of Ben.