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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Higher Education

It's no secret to those who know me that I'm a glutton when it comes to knowledge. My grandfather used to read encyclopedias for fun, and I'm not far behind him. So even though a college degree is a wonderful thing, my skimpy bachelors degree smells like underachievement to me. I am definitely not trying to undermine anyone else's educational achievements, be they big or small. I'm a fan of getting the education you desire, not the education anyone else may think you need. (Case in point, when my 17-year-old cousin T. talks about getting a vet-tech certificate instead of jumping into college right away, I encourage her to pursue the path she enjoys. Maybe she'll decide to become a veterinarian along the way; maybe she won't.) All explanations out of the way, I desire a higher degree. Until I figure out which degree I want, and until I further figure out how to pay for it, I will have to settle for scrounging up educational opportunities where I can find them.

So of course when our speaker at last night's BCALP meeting was from a local community college, my ears perked up. I half-expected her to push classes like Intermediate Computer and The Professional Resume on us, but I was pleasantly surprised. She definitely talked about the short term classes that teach Word 2007 and advanced spread-sheeting, but she also mentioned a class called "Spanish for Courts and the Legal System." I wasn't the only person in the room who suddenly started listening at that point. As an organization consisting of dedicated secretaries, clerks, paralegals and other administrative professionals, most of us are pretty adept at basic word processing. We couldn't function at our jobs if we were not. But how many times have we stumbled through conversations with ESL clients? Being in Alabama, I'll tell you it happens pretty frequently.

I took Spanish in high school and college. The courses were required. I aced them somehow without learning much more than the very basics. This does not help in a conversational situation with a native speaker who is trying to figure out the next step in her case. I realized within a moment, like everyone else in the room, how valuable this "Spanish for Courts and the Legal System" could be. I have to look into it a bit more, but a class such as that could provide me with challenging yet practical knowledge while temporarily settling my ache for higher ed. I never would have guessed I could find such a gem of a class at my local community college.

So my challenge to you, dear readers, is this: If you have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, or unfulfilled curiosity about anything, check out your own community college courses. They aren't glamorous, but I think community colleges are probably drastically overlooked when it comes to valuable and necessary knowledge in all kinds of areas. As for me, I better stop writing and go check out this class.

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