Thursday, January 3, 2013

Never Give Up On A Dream... #DreamUp13

I transferred to The City College of New York as an undergraduate student in the spring of 2003. It was my third college transfer. I lost about half of my credits. I was 27 years old. I was in a committed relationship. And I was working full-time and going to school part-time at night. 

When it was time to register for the fall, I met with the advisor and expressed my concern about the limited course selection. Many of the classes I needed were during the day. 

The advisor gave me two options: quit school or quit work.

I walked out of the advisor's office feeling extremely discouraged. I asked for options and the advisor gave me two that really weren't.

So I transferred to another school: Lehman College. I lost more credits. And I was pushed farther away from my dream.

Many people in my life didn't understand why I was going to school. They would ask me about my plans after I graduated. Was I going to look for another job? Would I make more money? When I answered, "Probably not, my degree is just for me," - it was a hard concept for some people to accept.

By the fall of 2005, I was pregnant and some members of my family urged me to take time off. But I was so close to graduating that I didn't want to quit. I compromised and went to school Saturday mornings and took an online class. I took the spring semester off since I was home on maternity leave but by the following fall, I was back in school. It wasn't easy, trying to find balance between school, work and family. But I was determined. I thought of school as my 'me time.' 

In my final semester at Lehman, I was taking three classes and applying to graduate school while working full time and taking care of my family. It was also the time The Boy was being evaluated. 

The Boy was diagnosed with autism two weeks before my college graduation. And instead of celebrating that summer, I spent it researching autism, visiting specialized preschools and rearranging our lives to accommodate all the recommended services.

Family and friends suggested I put graduate school on hold to be there for Norrin. But I was determined to at least start. I knew that if I started, I could take a break and have the desire to finish. I knew that if I didn't start that fall, I would never go.

I returned to The City College of New York for my first semester as a graduate student in the fall of 2008. It was difficult. Sitting in class with students years younger than me with worries unlike mine. It was demanding, trying to be an advocate for my child and keep up with everything. And I felt guilty for wanting to be both mother and student. 

I took the next semester off because work and school and autism was too much. But I wasn't worried, I had already started and I knew I would return.

Ten years ago I was given two unrealistic choices: quit school or quit work. I believed in myself and created my own options. I learned to let go of time tables, I ignored what everyone else was doing. I pursued my dream while living my life.

I got married. I switched jobs. I attended 4 schools. I changed majors. I moved (twice). I had a baby; he was diagnosed with autism. I started a novel. Family members have died. The Husband retired and started a new career. I had a miscarriage. I started this blog. I've traveled. I sued my school district and fought for a better placement for my son. I have loved, lost, laughed and cried. I have wanted to give up  at every obstacle. But I kept going. 

In a few weeks, I will start my final semester at City College. I will prepare and submit my thesis - 125 pages of my writing. And in May 2013, I will march in cap and gown to Pomp and Circumstance. I will graduate (hopefully with honors) and be the first in my family to have a Masters degree.

Twenty years after my high school graduation, ten years after I was given the option to quit and five years after The Boy's autism diagnosis, I will have fulfilled the dream I didn't think was possible for someone like me. 


Tonight I am excited to participate in the Mamiverse Target Twitter Party #DreamUp13 
It has been proven by experts across all areas of study that sharing your personal goals with as many people as you can helps motivate you to make those same goals real.   
Invoking the support of everyone you know, and perhaps some you have yet to meet, builds a network of inspiration that will help you achieve your goals.  
Establishing this Twitterverse base of personal life-coaches will enable you to ask them for advice when you need it, support when you crave it, and get them to cheerlead you into making 2013 a year of total success.
I would love for you to join in and share your dream. 

RSVP for Mamiverse Twitter Party here -

Hashtag: #DreamUp13

Prizes: Three $125 Target GiftCards will be given away

Hosts and cohosts to follow: @Mamiverse @LorraineCLadish @EileenCCampos @CosmoforLatinas @MamiverseBooks @MamiverseFood


  1. Lisa you are simply AMAZING! No doubt about it! You are such an inspiration! I am truly honored to know you :) May ALL your dreams come true!!!

  2. Amen to your story and your dreams, Lisa!! You're a great example of doing what it takes to make dreams come true! :-)


AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.