I don’t know Stephanie very well. We both took statistics together at QVCC, and have crossed paths in some interesting ways. My past is slightly entangled with her present, but I like that we are both mature enough to sit down and talk about some common themes that our lives have. Just like me, Stephanie was homeschooled through high school. However, her experience wasn’t as positive as mine, because she didn’t always want to be homeschooled. Her older siblings went to public school, and she was jealous of them at times. Her mom wasn’t very persistent with her keeping up on school work, so there were many days where her homeschooling was “go outside and play.” Stephanie has very low self esteem in regards to her education, because she didn’t feel as though she was smart or could understand “anything about anything – academically I thought I was really stupid.” When I asked Stephanie why she was homeschooled, she told me that “I think it’s because of my mom.. She started out homeschooling my brother, and then he was allowed to go to high school because he showed interest. I showed interest as well, but my parents – I think it was more my mom clinging to me because I’m the youngest.” There were also religious reasons, but Stephanie knows that some of the reason she wasn’t allowed to attend a school was because of her family dynamics. When she was homeschooled, Stephanie told me that her curriculum was very disjointed and unorganized. “I think the biggest problem with homeschooling me was that my parents didn’t try hard enough. They expected the curriculum to do everything, and that didn’t work.” She says that personally, she doesn’t feel as though she gained anything from having been homeschooled. She didn’t get much socialization when she was homeschooled, apart from going to church and being involved in youth groups and studies. This type of socialization was challenging the older she got, because these days, she doesn’t interact with people in the same situations as she is now out in the world. “I think I got a lot of my social skills from churches. Which, honestly, has taken a huge toll on my personal life as well, just because I grew up and then I realized ‘oh, not everything is my little Christian bubble that I was brought up to believe.’” She still keeps many of these church friends, but she realized how much she really missed out on the older she got. Stephanie wasn’t allowed to date until she was 18, so she felt like she was really kept out of the typical teenage social scene until that age.
When she was about 16, these feelings really culminated as she started looking at different schools to attend. However, by then it was too late to start and finish high school, since she wouldn’t have enough credits, so one of her friend’s mom’s suggested that she attend QVCC instead. Stephanie went to QV the day before classes were supposed to start, took a tour, and her BSA. She quickly realized that her worries about keeping up academically were unfounded as she tested into college math and English at only 16. Once she got to QV, Stephanie’s relationship with education completely changed. SHe loved everything about QV. “Honestly I got such an experience there, I can’t even explain how amazing it was. The teachers want to know you, the staff actually wants to help you, and there’s so much more one on one and actual interaction. Smaller classes – that’s awesome – because you’re not a number, you’re a face and a name.” Stephanie told me an amazing example of the dedication of the teachers at QVCC when she explained a challenging time she had during her last semester at QVCC. “[My last semester] was really tough for me, because I knew I took on too much. Seventeen credits, I have a horse and she costs so much, and I’m working, I’m living on my own.. It’s just.. It’s hard.” She was able to talk to Professor Lynch, with whom she took an online class, and he allowed her to finish some of the classwork over the summer so she was able to graduate on time, with the rest of the students that helped make her time at QVCC so amazing and remarkable.
When I asked Stephanie to compare what she got out of homeschooling versus QVCC, she was overwhelmingly in favor of the community college experience. “Honestly I don’t think I got social experience, I don’t think I got academic experience [out of homeschooling]…” The only positive she could find about homeschooling was that “because I got to start QVCC earlier … I got to get a head start on college and actually understand how a classroom works.”
While Stephanie was very doubtful of her academic skills when she was homeschooled, I find that she is another perfect example of how resilient young adults can be. Even without having a stellar educational foundation, Stephanie was able to overcome this challenge and succeed in a community college setting. This May, she graduated from QVCC with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and she plans on continuing her education at some point to become a vet. She would like to get into UConn’s pre-vet program, and in the meantime, she wants to continue working at a local animal hospital. She loves her job as a receptionist, because she is able to work in her future field, and is also surrounded by animals on a daily basis.
I found it very interesting to talk to Stephanie, because prior to our interview, I only knew her as a community college student. Until I started this project, I was unaware that she had been homeschooled, and I think the fact that I wasn’t able to pick this out due to her academic performance is a nod towards how hard she worked once she got to QV. Not only is she a dedicated student, but she is also a kind, compassionate human being, who will do almost anything to stop and make sure a stray dog gets back to it’s home.