By AISHA NADEEM, Staff Columnist

  • Brittany Neal
  • Senior, graduating in May
  • Major: Communication

This week’s inspirational story is by Brittany Neal, a senior majoring in communication. When I learned she was 28 years old, I wanted to know what moved her to come back to school and finish. Neal began by telling me she started off like the typical college student, right out of high school with an idea of what she wanted to go into: business. She had big dreams planned out for herself, but sometimes life changes those entirely. While she was in her second year at Schoolcraft, Neal’s dad lost his job, which affected her plans as well. She took a four-year break to work. In that time, Neal saw her high school friends graduate and take further steps in life while she continued working at the daycare center.

Neal remembers, “24 sparked something, that I need to go back.” In fall 2013, Neal enrolled as a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and she’s glad she did. Although it was difficult to adjust in the beginning and there were struggles, she remembered why she came back. When I asked what pushed her to get through the tough times, Neal spoke kindly of the professors and staff members of UM-Dearborn as a whole.

12837775_10156610484530632_89974836_o“When you have this team behind you, it really helps. It motivates you for yourself and for them,” she said. Soon enough, she found friends of all ages, inspiring professors and good people. Her experience of returning to school was great; she took four classes, did well in them and truly enjoyed learning once again. Looking back, she is thankful for the break because it gave her time to gain experience in the real world, and more importantly, led her to what she really wants to do. So with a communications major, Neal also got an amazing summer internship at Fox 2 Sports with the help of UM-Dearborn and its members. She is excited to work and feels grateful to have come this far.

Neal continued to tell me of all the people who came along and helped her reach this point in her life. She looks back and is able to tell herself, “Look Brittany. Look how far you’ve come,” and that is a great feeling and a great accomplishment! Those four years weren’t part of her plan, but she found her place and is glad it played out this way. What she wants for other students to take away from her story is that it is never too late to go back and become all that one can be. I could tell how happy and positive she was with her decision and she’s glad she was brave enough to take the first step. She is excited about working with Fox 2 Sports section and has successfully found her place.

Neal empathizes the importance of education and how far it takes people in life. She shared her experience of the real world and how it’s changing, how expectations are rising and education is power. Neal wants to thank the members of UM-Dearborn, who work so hard to help students like her and like us reach our goals; she wants students to know that people are willing to help and encourage if you reach out and try. After all, we are a team here at our school.

“I went back to school,” Neal said. “That’s how I got it. My story has a happy ending. For me, it might have been late, but it happened.”

Her goals are set and she’s continuing to work hard and graduate in this upcoming May. Let’s wish her luck. We’re proud of you.