Youngest in family leaving nest, sets sights on college life
January 11, 2010 —
This year is a milestone in the Essenmacher family as the youngest of my four siblings finishes her last year of high school and begins her own college experience.
Julie called me in early November with great excitement to say that she had been accepted at Jackson Community College. She is on track to graduate from Garber High School on May 29. She says her last year of high school is going well – she is getting good grades.
“I feeling like I’m ready to graduate – it’s time to change things up in a new environment,” she says. “Graduation day is going to be exciting and also kind of sad. I’ll be leaving a lot of friends and memories behind, but I’m excited for the new beginning.”
Julie says she will miss friendships, some teachers and sporting events. Though she does not play for any of the teams, she is one of the Garber Dukes’ most enthusiastic fans. She will miss riding the Spirit Bus with the Blue Crew to cheer on the football team.
Julie became interested in Jackson Community College when she browsed its Web site. She says she considered going to Delta or SVSU, like her big brother, but Jackson gives her the chance to live away from the family home in Essexville.
She says she likes the idea of living independently in student housing. Julie has been learning to cook, clean house, do laundry and shop for herself with the help of our mother, Janine.
“I’m excited to meet new friends and get out on my own,” she says. “I’m also kind of nervous about leaving my parents back home.”
Our mother and father, while excited for Julie, also express concern about being away from her. “When all of you were home, you all divided our attention,” says Janine. “For the last three years, she has had [all] our attention and I think she might get a little more homesick.”
“I might get homesick here and there, but I’ll get through it,” my sister says. “I’ll pray about it and call Mom and Dad once in a while.”
Julie has one advantage that I did not have as the oldest child: She has a more realistic idea of what to expect from her college experience. Janine says this will make the transition easier for her than it was for the rest of us.
“My brothers and my sister tell me classes are hard — you have to really study. And sometimes you don’t get the best roommates, so you have to put up with all the differences in people.”
My sister involves herself in school activities — I’m confident she will make friends. She is committed to Relay for Life and supporting the American Cancer Society. She says she also wants to volunteer in the community. I assured her that college students are passionate about causes, and her interests will be shared by a number of other students and potential friends.
Julie is excited to tell her siblings about new friends and college classes. For once, she will be able to share in the telling of stories about college life with brothers and sisters who have attended the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Saginaw Valley State University.
“I’m very excited that all of my kids wanted to pursue college,” says Janine. “We instilled that in them from kindergarten. It was expensive and frustrating at times, but it was rewarding.”
Our parents look at education as an investment not only in their children but also in their children’s future. They say education is like giving a person seed to grow a garden rather than giving the loaf of bread that will only nourish while it lasts.
“It is just nice to see the last one flourish,” says Janine. “It’s kind of like sending the first one off. Mixed emotions. A few tears.”