Going to school, against all odds

Achieving goals (Carmen Ulloa)

Carmen Ulloa

Margie Reese dreamed of becoming a journalist. Like many other women, she chose paths that kept her from pursuing this goal. Married and raising children, going to school seemed impossible.

Later in life she divorced, her children became adults and they left home. Before she even had time to think of what she was going to do, her then-sick mother moved in with her. Reese chose to take care of her mother.

Years later, following a regular check up, Reese received disconcerting news. Her mammogram results confirmed what every woman fears to hear—she had cancer.

Her mother died three months after Reese was diagnosed with a breast tumor. Margie felt her time ticking away. She remembered that she still had a project pending. Reese owed herself a journalism degree.

“I had my tombstone made, and I wrote on it ‘everyday above the ground is a good day,'” Reese laughed.

Struggling with alternative treatments to cure her disease, juggling with life’s ups and downs and emotional distress, Reese has succeeded in her pursuit. At 64 and with stage 4 cancer, she will be graduating from Southwestern College this fall.

“Where there is breath, there is hope. If you got a dream you need to follow it,” Reese said. “Don’t wait for something big to happen, for you to decide to do something for yourself.”

She encourages students of all ages not to look behind, nor question what they have or haven’t done. Reese believes we can all start today.

“Speak good things to yourself,” she said. “Don’t believe the voice that stops you and worries you of the things that could happen.”

According to Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times staffer, “Public colleges in California, including Cal State, the University of California and the community colleges, have been under particular pressure. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed cutting $1.4 billion from the state’s higher education budget, potentially leading to enrollment cuts, tuition hikes and pared course offerings. The numbers could grow if a budget stalemate is not overcome.”

In times of lower educational quality due to budget cuts and higher prices, students need to struggle more to stay in school. Dennis De Los Santos, 21, nursing, thinks the increase is happening at the same time that general price level is rising so he considers it fair. Jasmin Kleinbart, 19, history, said it is sad that some people will have to take less units. Aimee Schulz, 19, theater, thinks some people will have to stay longer in school in order to finish all the units requirements.

Those who wish for one, will do as Reese did, go to school against all odds.

Reese has a website at http://www.sandiegoangels.net. The site’s objective is to offer support to cancer patients who seek a treatment that is an alternative to chemotherapy.

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