My name is Michael Johnson. I’m a non-traditional, 43-year-old graduating student in the Accelerated Behavioral Health and Science Program at Philadelphia University. It was not an easy decision to come back to school. Balancing family life, a full-time job and other numerous responsibilities, school seemed like a gigantic undertaking. And as you know, it was.

However, from the moment I started my first class, I became inspired. I was inspired by my family, because without their love and constant support, I wouldn’t be standing here. I was inspired by my instructors, they opened my mind to new worlds and possibilities. I became inspired by my fellow students. To work with so many different types of people on such a variety of projects greatly expanded my social and personal skills. I’ve truly made good friends.

I experienced countless hours of study groups, numerous sleepless nights worrying about exams, missing birthday parties lost time with friends and family, but it was worth the sacrifice.

During my first semester, my nephew who had graduated high school years earlier, started asking questions about what it was like coming back to school after so many years, like are you the oldest in the class? Are the exams really hard? After several conversations and encouraging words, he made a choice to go back to school.

In that moment I realized that my educational journey is not mine alone. My educational journey affects people. We are living proof that it can be done whether you’re fresh out of high school or approaching retirement.

I chose to be an example in my community by sharing the limitless benefits of education. We can be that bridge for someone to reach their educational goals.