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Perspective | Pushing past barriers and establishing my academic identity

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I grew up working on my family farm in Hoke County. My days consisted of feeding our animals at 8 a.m. and working around the farm or at home until I fed the animals again around 4 p.m. I was also home-schooled from pre-K until I graduated high school. Unfortunately, I did not do well academically and struggled to balance my academics with my life as a farmer. I rarely had time to invest in my education in my environment and often sacrificed learning to help my family. However, despite my hardships, I now have a solid GPA and am double majoring in an educational environment that works for me.

Every home school is different; I personally did not like my home schooling simply because I missed quite a bit of fundamental education. In high school, my curriculum was very independent, and I lacked the self-motivation to properly continue my education around my other life activities. Bettering my education was neither a priority nor an option I had time to pursue. However, a positive I experienced from home schooling was that I was not exposed to peer-related pressure. I had more time to learn about agriculture, where our foods come from, and how to lead a self-sustaining lifestyle. 

After graduating high school, I immediately chose to further my education because I wanted to be finished with everything I could do with my education as soon as possible. While I was not confident I would get passing grades, I did feel like continuing my education would help me throughout my career more than a failed high school diploma. I decided to start my higher education at Sandhills Community College, as they were one of the few colleges in my area that did not require a second language or a very high GPA.

My transition into college has been surprisingly phenomenal. I have never enjoyed an environment more and have come to find how much I love to learn and be challenged with projects. I have joined clubs, held positions on committees, and made an effort to engage with students and faculty alike. But most of all, I love engaging with my teachers and learning from them. It is very fortunate for me that Sandhills Community College has faculty that cares about the success of their students and has a perfect student-to-teacher ratio.

Now that I have moved beyond my home schooling years, there are some things that I wish more people knew about home schooling. Most importantly, there is no way to shortcut your way through education. Home schooling is simply a real school in a home environment; there should not be any substitutes or shortcuts. The students still require educated teachers, a solid curriculum, and peer-to-peer interaction. 

Despite the 4.0 GPA I have managed to maintain, I am well aware that in most fields I am at an educational disadvantage; however, I try my best to push past those barriers to pursue success. Despite how my education started, I will forever remain the only person that can better it. This stance is my current motto as I push towards higher academic success.

Michelle Marshall

Michelle Marshall is a John M. Belk Impact Fellow at EducationNC.