College at 30

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a breath of fresh air for all the same reasons the Navy was refreshing. Give me something I’m good at or can figure out; coffee, food, and joy fills my heart. The notion of being okay with the simplest things seems whimsical and unrealistic. However, having a concrete purpose is fulfilling and provides wholeness. Clarity rids confusion and allows what’s important to surface.
School and work are refreshing places because their purpose is obvious. Life’s expectations can be different from situation to situation, as can career expectations or intended outcomes. The slight difference is that in career and education, there are plans, ways to complete the plans, and an outcome. This cycle repeats itself with occasional changes, but life is unpredictable, looks different for every person and can be complicated.
My college career began with trepidation because I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend college. Secondly, I hadn’t decided what my purpose in life was. In 2015, I moved to Oklahoma City and was still in the Navy on active duty. There are a few prerequisites for attending college while on active duty. Sailors must complete all the training applicable to their respective positions and obtain an Enlisted Aviation or Warfare Specialist certification. I finished all that and began my college career at Rose State College. I got my Associate’s degree in Political Science, focusing on Paralegal Studies. Most people would agree that the culmination of discipline, study skills, determination, and consistency get individuals through college and propel career opportunities. While I primarily agree, an excellent playlist is the thing that really gets people through college. Waterboy by Don Shirley got me through my Associate’s degree. The Tidal music app has a feature where listeners can select a single song by an artist, and after that song, the artist’s greatest hits begin to play. I did this every day or every other day, and somehow, all my work would end up complete. Life is about the simple things.

In 2021, I started my Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. Initially, when I got to OU, I felt out of place. This feeling lasted a while, and adjusting to the course workload and other responsibilities was difficult. My family and the Navy have a rugged use of perseverance. It’s rugged because an individual could be in depths of despair, and both would say to continue to press forward, but life is about giving everything because we aren’t here forever, and we may as well have a good time! My favorite part of attending college at 30 is my appreciation for being here. I am confident that had I attended college at 18, I would not have had a heart filled with gratitude for the opportunity to attend school!

Artra Nelson

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