One Step Toward a College Degree Despite Odds

I’m so excited for this opportunity to collaborate with 14 other bloggers on one theme: One Step Toward the Impossible. Each of us wrote about a time where the smallest gesture made a difference, and/or a goal that may have seemed impossible, but we had to take the first step. I chose to write on One Step Toward a College Degree Despite Odds.


High School

In a previous post, Grit: How to Get What You Want, I briefly described my experience with my high school counselor. Here it is again:

It is my senior year of high school. I’m sitting in a large auditorium with a room full of seniors. There are several counselors at the front speaking to one student at a time about his/her future plans.

My counselor calls my name (of course she says it wrong).

We sit, and she examines my transcript (or pretends to).

She looks up at me behind her perfect wire glasses and sleek black bob. “What do you want to do after you graduate?” she asks.

“I want to be a doctor,” I say with confidence.

“College isn’t for everyone. Get a vocation,” she responds without skipping a beat.

This is my high school “counselor?” The person who is supposed to mentor and guide me into adulthood??? The person I’m meant to look up to? Why did she say that? Was it my clothes? My appearance? It couldn’t be my grades. I graduated with over a 4.0 weighted GPA because of all of my advanced placement courses.

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Deflated.

Guess what? I got over it, and in my head (luckily), I told her to screw off. I’d find my way to college with or without her help.

Family Life

My mother was an immigrant from Korea who didn’t have an education level past junior high. I wasn’t in contact with my father very much growing up. My step-father(s) (there were a few throughout my childhood) didn’t have any college experience. I had no guidance from home on the college process, and my high school counselor (as shown above) was zero help. But I had a dream. I wanted to attend college, somehow and some way. My mother and step-fathers couldn’t afford to send me to college. They worked at various casinos, swapmeets, and convenient stores.


When I was in high school, college felt like a possible dream for only the select lucky few. How was I going to pay for it? Could I survive on my own and attend college? Fear brought more questions and choked my thoughts. I needed a plan, or my high school counselor’s words would come true, “College isn’t for everyone. Get a vocation.”

When a mountain seems too hard to climb, a goal set too high, or a challenge out of your reach, you have to take the first step. Then the next. And the next.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.

My first step was to research how to apply to college and the actions needed to get into college. I didn’t have a computer at home because my family couldn’t afford one. As I had mentioned in a previous post, I spent my school lunch hours in the library researching everything I needed to know to attend college. The school librarian became my mentor and helped me with applying to take my ACT/SAT and to college. My first step made all the difference.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing without owing one cent and had zero family financial support. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Helpful Past Posts on College  

I discussed how I paid for college in this video: How I Paid for College and Put $5000 in an Investment Account

Can I Afford College?

Additional Tips on Affording College

When Should You Start Preparing for College?

What Should You Look for in a College Visit?

10 Ways to Fail College

Part 2: 10 Ways to Fail College


Believe in Yourself

If I would’ve listened to the doubt from my high school “counselor,” I would’ve never attended college. I have a PhD in Nursing because I took one step forward toward college. What big goal do you want? Are you ready to take that step today? Have you taken that step toward your goal already? If you haven’t, I challenge you to do that. And please believe in yourself. I think that is actually the first step toward achieving what may seem the impossible. (Here is an inspiring short video about a college graduate who was homeless and fought to receive his college degree. I love his determination.)

Please let me know about a time you took your first big step. Did it pay off?

Have a wonderful day. Thanks for reading!

Blog Collaboration

Please check out these other amazing and inspiring posts on One Step Toward the Impossible. You will feel like YOU COULD DO ANYTHING!!!


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Join my private positive FB group page. I’m hoping to connect with other positive/motivational/inspirational bloggers. We can collaborate and share our blog posts: Your Best Self.



86 thoughts on “One Step Toward a College Degree Despite Odds

  1. You inspire me each time. These days people waste money and don’t even utilise computer. You will be an inspiration to many meritorious yet financially challenged students. The counsellors and teachers must be motivating, anyway i liked your sense of humour, “I got over it, and in my head (luckily), I told her to screw off.”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha ha. Thank you, Sadaf! I truly cheer for teens who are trying to get a start in life with minimal resources (financially or emotionally). I’ve been there. It’s not easy, but it’s possible to still have a wonderful life if you work for it. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, Ipuna, I think it’s amazing how you worked towards your dream of a college degree despite the odds! I’m a bit bothered with the high school counsellor’s demotivating words, but luckily you’re a fighter. You’re such an inspiration. ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Nicolle. It wasn’t easy. I had to work at the mall for a car. I took the city bus to and from work after school. I had to find mentors to help me know what to do to get into college. I didn’t even have a computer back the because we couldn’t afford it. I went to the financial aid office every month to look at a list of scholarship postings. It was a rough time, but I’m stronger because of it. I hope to inspire others in similar situations that they can do it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You can see in that picture, I don’t know, it was like you had just got a huge hug from God. That’s how happy you look. “Happy” doesn’t even come close to describing how you looked. It makes you want to smile, a big old ear to ear smile, when I look at that picture :):)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is truly inspirational, Sunshine. It’s amazing how you went after your goal until you achieved it. People will always have something to say. But the ones that matter are those who bring you closer to your goal. The choice is always ours. 😀 😀 (just like doing this is)

    P.S. Lucky you indeed! 😂😂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes! The choice is mine! I love that. Very true. We can’t control how others around us treat us, but we can control our response.

      And Lucky me to have our little collaboration group! And thank you for your wonderful concept and image for us to use! You were the inspiration behind this collaboration post!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 😅😅 Errr… here’s a little secret of mine…. Sometimes, when I don’t know how to react or respond to something sweet… probably because my head’s in the clouds, i do this:


        Liked by 2 people

  4. Ipuna, I loved this post. I’m glad you persevered and did *not* listen to that so-called “counselor,” who needs to have her head examined, IMHO. Good for you for going for your dreams, and boo to that nasty counselor to tried to derail them. (Yay for the librarian who helped you, too.)

    BTW, the saying “living well is the best revenge” seems to also apply here. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Right! Why was she a counselor? She needed another profession. She was a dream killer. Ha ha. The librarian was amazing! I did write her a nice thank you note after I graduated. YES! I love that saying! I actually have never heard of it before, but I sure live by it. Ha ha. Not that I want revenge, but I want success in my life and will not let others stop that.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah. She was a horrible person and there’s no reason at all to think about her any longer except, “Thank goodness I did not listen to her.”

        You keep living well, Ipuna, and have a great life. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Self-motivation is important, especially when it comes to education and receiving one. Some people come from families and homes where education is already embedded and instilled from day one. However, some of us have to sort of be our own cheerleaders. It’s always inspiring to hear stories like this.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Self-belief or self-confidence is one great trait, it determines the quality of life and magnitude of success. This post is amazing and I love it, this paragraph got me and I have to read it repeatedly: “When a mountain seems too hard to climb, a goal set too high, or a challenge out of your reach, you have to take the first step. Then the next. And the next.” It reminds me of the moon landing – One little step, a big leap. I commend your courage Ipuna. Thanks for sharing and remain blessed.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. The guts on that counsellor!! Well you showed her by believing in yourself anyway! My mother went through something similar. Her family didn’t want her to get a college degree and guess what she does now? She’s a doctor! I shared this story with her and she says to tell you that we are very proud of you. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This is so exciting to collaborate with others. I am so happy for you! This was very well written! You are very inspiring. I am so proud of you for your accomplishments!

    My goal is to be able to write a book! I love writing and have dreamt of it for a long time ♡

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Good for you! Very inspiring and you’re an example to a lot of people, I think.

    I was driven to graduate with honours from college and despite a whole lot of people not believing in me (of which one was my “best friend”) I totally did! Hah! Feels so good to prove people wrong 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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