By Sorayda Rivera
Student Life Editor

Photo by Chris Swann

I actually thought writing this would have been a lot easier. I have been staring at my laptop for over 30 minutes now. This is the last column I will ever write for The Drumbeat at Tyler Junior College.
My journey at TJC began in 2006 after I graduated from high school, but I never graduated. Dropping out of college seemed more manageable for me at the time than actually going to class and putting in the work. After I dropped out that first time, I came back to TJC two more times. I followed my same quitter attitude and I dropped out again and again.
After the third time I dropped out of TJC, I convinced myself that graduating was just another thing I needed to add to the list of all of the things I couldn’t do. Oh, by the way, I have a list of all of the things I cannot do. Because of my Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I cannot walk or run, take myself to the restroom, or get in and out of bed without help. I depend on people to help me live my life from the time I wake up until I go to bed. When I was younger, I enjoyed basking in all of my cannot’s.
Thankfully, I hit my 30s, and let me tell you, I am so happy I did. Once I turned 30, I began analyzing my life and began to put everything into perspective. I started to see things differently. Instead of thinking about all of the things I cannot do, why not try to focus on some of the things I can do. My thought process was this: “OK, Sory, maybe you will never be able to run a marathon, but there are definitely many things you can do.”
I can drive, learn, talk, listen and most importantly, I can read and write. In 2020, I decided to put my abilities into work, and I went back to school for the fourth time. On my second day of school, I was already ready to quit. I didn’t know what I had got myself into! I didn’t have my own transportation at the time, so I had to ride the city transit. It was like 30 degrees outside and it was pouring down raining. To make matters worse, my power chair tires were not working correctly, so it would make a loud noise while rolling down the hallway.
All I kept thinking was, Sory, what the heck were you thinking coming back to college. I was miserable. And the thought of having to get used to studying, deadlines and taking tests freaked me out. Thankfully that same day I was ready to quit, I went into the Director of Disability Service’s Margaret Rapp’s office. After I calmed down from my panic attack, she managed to talk me into staying. She gave me a much-needed reminder that all of the inconveniences I was experiencing were only temporary.
That same day, I met Kasi Dickerson; she was my Intro to Advertising professor and The Drumbeat adviser. Her class made me excited about my journey at TJC. On this day, I decided quitting was no longer an option, and I decided to keep going. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined to sharpen my skills and learn all I could.
I also decided to join The Drumbeat as a staff writer. Boy, was I out of my comfort zone. Three semesters later, I am so glad I made myself join. The Drumbeat made me feel like I belonged, and I was getting to do something I had only ever thought about, which was getting my writings published. I was surrounded by like-minded, intelligent individuals who were all here for the same reason.
Thanks to The Drumbeat, I had a reason to enjoy school. Plus, all of my professors and faculty at TJC are amazing. Chris Chappa made me not hate math, Sharon Kyser helped me to appreciate history and Dalia Mimms helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. TRIO also played a huge role in my success. Most importantly, Ms. Dickerson made me believe in myself and my writings as I had never before. For the first time in my life, I knew that I could accomplish great things.
I am honored and proud to say in May 2021, I will be graduating from TJC with my associate in advertising and public relations. Just that sentence alone brings tears to my eyes. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would be a college graduate. I am not the one to toot my own horn, but I am so proud of myself. There were many sleepless nights and lots of tears, but I still made it. So, toot, toot!
On that note, I want to say thank you, TJC, thank you, Drumbeat, and thank you to all of the friends I made along the way. My time here has made me realize that I can do so many things as long as I try. I will never forget my experiences and triumphs. I will never again consider myself a quitter.