It’s not Just About the Destination, it’s About the Journey!
Graduate Assistant Shelby Edwards retraces what made her continue her education at CU Denver.Feb 20, 2023
My name is Shelby. I have always loved school and learning but pinpointing the direction I wanted my life to go at eighteen was no small feat. Having a passion for cooking and baking, I thought culinary school would be where I ended up. However, I felt immense pressure from my family to pursue another path. So, with no idea what to do next, I started my academic journey at a community college to get a feel for science classes, thinking I would go into the medical field. Long story short, science was not for me. Who even understands chemistry? Once changing my major, I began taking classes that interested me, like Creative Writing and Government. After graduating with my Associate of Arts (AA) Degree, I transferred to Metropolitan State University (MSU) at Auraria Campus.
At MSU, I was presented with new challenges to overcome and possibilities to explore. Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications allowed me to present on a panel at the Rocky Mountain Communications Association conference, the first time I had ever confronted my fear of public speaking. Though I enjoyed my time at MSU, I married young, and my spouse was in the military. When she got stationed at Little Creek in Virginia, I packed everything I could in my car and drove across the country. I found a job working as a contractor for the military, supplying food to bases worldwide. I loved the experience, and traveling to different installations to meet new service members was thrilling. However, despite having an opportunity I thoroughly enjoyed, I desperately missed learning on campus and being around students who shared new perspectives and similar interests. After a couple of years out of school, I wanted to go back and transferred to Old Dominion University (ODU). I started working part-time to prioritize school and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication.
After I got divorced, I threw myself heavily into traveling for work. I was lucky enough to spend time in Japan, Germany, and beautiful places all over the United States that I wouldn’t have known existed otherwise. After a couple more years, the pandemic hit. I have a huge soft spot for kids; seeing how negatively affected they were and how messy the education system became was upsetting. My oldest nephew has dyslexia, and being out of a suitable learning environment was a struggle my family faced. Due to the nature of my job, I was able to move back home and help my nephews with school.
Sitting with them daily while they Zoomed with their teachers and did remote learning made me miss education again. This led me to where I am today: CU Denver! Having been at Auraria Campus prior, I knew this was the only school I wanted to attend. There is nothing quite like the environment of Denver, and the acceptance one feels as a student on campus. I am now a graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, working on a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis on Education Policy. I realized through the pandemic that if I wanted to see positive changes in the world, I would need to educate myself on how to make them, especially for kids. Every class I’ve taken has blown my mind and taught me valuable skills I know I’ll use in the future. I’ve explored research and topics that excite me and will probably keep me in academia forever.
Though I did not keep my job traveling, I now work as a Graduate Assistant (GA) in the Student Transitions and Family Engagement office. I spend most of my time on CU Denver’s campus and honestly couldn’t be happier. My GA position allows me to tackle my fear of public speaking, as I often speak at our Family Engagement events. Every day I come to campus, I feel supported by my bosses, faculty, staff, and peers. It is one of the more engaging environments I’ve found myself in. I also appreciate being able to offer parents and families advice and support while sending their students to college because I understand how scary and overwhelming college may seem, especially when you have no idea what you’re doing.
My time in school has been a journey and is far from what people expect when thinking about their time or their students’ time in college. I spent eight years pursuing a bachelor’s degree and transferred several times to get there. I graduated with far more than the required 120 credits needed, but I wouldn’t change a thing because not only did I gain an education, but I grew as a person. I will graduate in Fall 2023 and look forward to the adventure ahead!
Shelby is studying in the School of Public Affairs Public Administration Master’s Program. In her free time, you can find her reading in the North Classroom or eating in the Tivoli.
Her involvements on campus include:
- The 2022 Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals (AHEPPP) Communication Summit
- The 2022 Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) Meeting Enrollment Goals through Family Engagement Seminar
- The National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS)