Even though I graduated with honors in high school, I was ill-prepared for college. Due to monetary reasons and logistics, I opted to start in a Junior college first. Being that my high school was not that highly rated, as was the norm for most Florida schools, I had a lot of making up to do. To catch up, I had to go to school year round because my placement test scores were low in all the core subjects. I had to take non-credit earning remedial classes in English, Math and Chemistry. I, however, was not alone in this boat. As it turned out, most of these classes were full of my high school classmates. It was like being in high school all over again. Not a very strong testament for the quality of my school or the teachers working there. You noticed I did not say teaching there, right? For most of them it was nothing but a job and they seemed to take little joy in passing on their knowledge. Enough with the school bashing, this book was not meant to act as a source for school reform. Teachers back then were underpaid and overworked as they still are today.
My two years at the junior college ended with little fanfare. I graduated with honors and left there armed with a firm foundation in mathematics and the sciences and was ready to finish my last two years at the state university. Not only was the distance to this school three times as far, the tuition was three times as much as well. Class sizes went from 20 to 30 students up to as much 400 students for my undergraduate genetics class. No longer did you get to talk to the instructor in person, you talked to TA’s or teaching assistants. They were basically graduate students studying under the professor. They also ran all the labs as well. One whole building was devoted to chemistry. This school truly dwarfed my junior college. The college campus covered several square miles. You subsequently had to arrive at school much earlier just so you had time to walk the longer distances to your classes. I am extremely happy that I did not start my college career there first. I would have never survived and I would most likely have quickly flunked out. This would have been partly due to the fact that the school was not only huge and impersonal, it was a party college and the girls were outrageous there. I would have never been able to concentrate. Being in Florida where it is very hot, the girls, in order to stay cool seemed to hardly wear anything at all. How was a young man to stay focused with all these wonderful distractions?
The only negative that arose from me splitting up my years between two colleges was that the Medical School I applied to only looked at my GPA for my last two years at the University. In most degree programs, the last two years contain the hardest classes. Pre-med was no different. While my grades in my first two years were very competitive, my grades for the last two years were not nearly so. When I went to see a counselor at the Medical School, I was asked if I knew anyone, I said “no”. He said I could always go to school in Grenada, so that ended my father’s dreams for me being a medical doctor.
While my hopes for becoming a medical doctor were dashed at least for the short term, I had not given up on the medical field yet. There was still an option for a dual-degree program which was geared for medical research as opposed to actual patient care. With the program, I would have a PhD and a MD behind me. I would also be able to do groundbreaking work in the field of neuroscience just like my stepbrother. Unfortunately, even though my four-year degree average was over 3.50, my average for the last two years was only 3.2. A’s had been a lot harder to come by in all of the science classes that I had taken. This is where the snobbery factor came into place, even though my counsellors said the Jr. College route amounted to the same thing as going to a University for the full four years, they lied. The University did not care at all that I had graduated with honors, they only thought about their classes and their programs. Even though, I aced the placement exam, they said that I did not meet the requirements for this program. I think it fell back to the fact that I did not know anyone at the University.
So now I had two road blocks thrown in my way. With limited resources and even more limited connections, my medical hopes for both my father and myself were virtually over. However, as we all know “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” If that weren’t the case, I would not be writing this story.
Now with my career path considerably reduced I was left with few options. With a degree in biology, teaching was the best and pretty much only option left to me. Not exactly what I was hoping for. I had, however, several choices for the subject matter I would teach. Since I had enough credit hours in chemistry, biology and in mathematics I could teach school in any of those three subjects. I also had the option to teach in high school or in junior high school. So, I gave it a shot. I easily aced all three classes but I soon realized that I had no interest in teaching at this level. If I was going to teach, I wanted it to be at a university where the students there actually wanted to learn. Well, at least most of them did. I also decided that I was frankly tired of the sciences and being that history had always been my first love, I switched gears. Before I could enter into the graduate program in history, I had to fulfill the undergraduate requirement which was only four additional classes. I easily aced all four of these classes and proceeded into the master of arts program in history. My area of specialty was the Industrial \Revolution and the Great Depression. I thought I knew what was ahead of me but little did I know how poor of a career path this would be as well.
After two years of going to school part time, I was only half done with my masters degree. The part time job I had taken to pay for my schooling was actually paying off. As it turned out, I was making as much money now as I would be making as a starting professor in a junior college with a masters degree. So, I simply said “Enough is enough.” After eight years of college and two worthless degrees, I decided to cut my losses. I wanted to live life and not study life. If you, at least read my first book you know that I became involved in competing in Triathlons. I spent the next four years pursuing this interest. I also focused on my career at the grocery chain that I was currently working in. Now that I was more serious about the job, my prospects began to improve some. I finally broke into the rarefied field of lower management. This is how I met my future first wife, of which I will discuss in the following chapter…