If academia is a freeway, people might exit before their destination for any number of reasons.
Some might seem small to an outside observer while others appear urgent. But once students find themselves exploring backroads and side streets, it takes inspiration, determination, and sometimes a bit of friendly assistance to find the on-ramp.
For instance, I was always a good student, if easily distracted. I had a supportive family and a preschool teacher for a mother who taught me the value of reading. Despite those advantages, other challenges would delay my graduation from Utah State University for nearly a decade.
Upon graduating in 2006 from Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, I served for two year as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan. Afterwards, I enrolled at USU with an academic scholarship. But once I’d gotten up to speed on the university freeway, I became aware of competing forces pushing me to leave early. My academic advisers recommended that I wait until graduation to start a family, because most students were dropping out after marrying and having children. My religious leaders, however, were exhorting marriage and children as soon as possible.
I did marry, moving one lane closer to the exit.
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