Most success stories begin with coming from nothing, but my story is a little different. I was adopted at a very young age by a military family that gave me love and everything I wanted. Not knowing yet that I had a learning disability, I had a very difficult time as a child in school. By the age of 16, I dropped out of school not knowing how to read or write. Fast-forward 10 years. I join the military, and just like school, it was not the best fit for me.
On November 5th, 2009, my team supported a mass casualty that was due to the shooting at a deployment site in Fort Hood, TX. After dealing with the injured patients and seeing many soldiers lose their lives, I told myself that I would never give up on myself and try my best in everything I did. The day after the shooting I met my wife Melissa and two months later we were married. Melissa played a big part in my decision to go to college. Things changed when we had our child as I felt I could not tell my daughter to go to college if I didn’t.
After months of telling myself that I was too dumb to start college, my wife talked me into signing up. Two years later, my wife and I completed our Associate’s degree with a 2.13 GPA. To tell you the truth, I was happy just to be able to walk the stage with my wife, and I really didn’t care about my GPA. The night after walking the stage, my wife asked me if I was going to continue for my bachelor’s degree. I told her she was crazy and only smart people have a bachelor’s degree.
While deployed in 2015, I completed 32 credits in six months and completed my bachelor’s degree with a 3.2 GPA. I couldn’t believe that I completed my bachelor’s degree, but one thing was still holding me back, I still felt that I was dumb. My wife and I moved from Germany to Miami in 2015 and my wife started asking if I was going to apply for a master’s program. I told my wife, again, that she was crazy, and I would never apply for a master’s program because that is only for really smart people.
As I looked for master’s programs online, I kept trying to talk myself out of it. I came across a university named Florida National University “FNU” and thought I’d give it a try. When I first called the University, I spoke with a really nice woman named Yolanda Navarro and by the end of the conversation I had signed up for my master’s degree. My first year at Florida National University was the best year of my college adventure. Yolanda Navarro would call me once a week to check on me and see how my family and I were doing. The Staff and Professors went far and beyond their responsibilities. On account of my wife, my two kids, Florida National University, and my dedication, I completed my master’s degree in Health Service Administration with a 4.0 GPA.
Anything is possible as long as you apply yourself and don’t give up. Granted, I had an excellent support system at home that encouraged me and pushed me beyond what I was comfortable doing, but I still had to work hard and stay focused. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
-James Allen Kiezer