As a young man, I decided I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible, but I had difficulties learning as a young boy and an adult. I struggled because I had an inability to remember what I read. I had to copy sentences over and over to help me to remember. I wanted to fight through these limitations and strive to be better.

Although I was not the best student, I decided to keep my eye on higher education. Upon graduating from high school, I was fortunate enough to be recruited by various colleges to play football. I decided to attend Ottawa University in Kansas. Three other members of my high school football team also decided to attend Ottawa. That is where my college career started.

Since I was not a strong student, I had to take a couple of zero-level courses, and I struggled my freshman year. I remember getting a D grade halfway through the semester in my psychology class; I was really struggling with being a student athlete. By attending study groups, I brought that grade up to a B. These groups taught me how to study and how to retain knowledge. With the knowledge I gathered, this class convinced me I belonged in college, and I made it my goal to graduate in four years.

After graduating, I wanted to continue my educational journey. The University of Oklahoma had a program that would allow me to continue my goal. When I told people I was going to pursue an advanced degree, many asked me why. They wanted to know what I planned to do with a master's degree. I told them I wanted to achieve a higher level of thinking, and that I thought that I'd enjoy the challenge. In my mind, I told myself I wanted to prove to teachers and others who didn't think I would make it this far. I also had a plan to show my future children what they can accomplish.

Recently, I have been thinking about applying for a doctoral program to help me reach my educational goals. I was met with the same questions when I discussed my interest in going back to school. While discouraging, these questions remind me I have done it before, and I can do it again. My kids deserve for me to reach this goal, so that is what I plan to do.

Never let others dim your light because they are scared to dream bigger or think higher. You are meant to do great things that are difficult. Enjoy the difficulty of life. Embrace it and win.

Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co., which produces Toasted Wine Fruit Spreads. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."

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