Hello, My Name is Sou short for Souphansa. I am Laotian and grew up in a very traditional Lao Home. I graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Art Degree in History, and Minor in Art History.
I was not the typical traditional student like the many attending there at CNU. I was a young mother of one and a spouse. However I did start out as a traditional student, you know someone who graduates from High School and immediately attends college right after. My Freshman year of college was as average as anybody’s first year at college, frat parties and football games. At that time I was attending Eastern New Mexico University and living with my parents, who of course would not let me live in the dorms because they were typical over protective Lao folks. Anyways, shortly after my freshman year I met the love of my life, a man in the Service named Alexander. We had plan on marrying and starting a family but not until after I graduate. However, that plan didn’t follow through. I got pregnant shortly after starting my sophomore year, and at the moment my simple life just became very complicated. I was now conflicted with my school situation, which quickly went from being at the forefront of my life to the rear. My parents were scared that my situation will be the demise to my college education. It was disappointing to them considering I was the first of our family to ever attend college. But I assured them that I will continue to finish no matter what, but of course they still had their doubts. Alex and I quickly married and began preparing ourselves for a new baby, all the while, I was still going to school. I was overwhelmed with everything, yet I was also determined to finish, so determined that after I gave birth, two days later I was in class taking my finals.
The next challenged to my college education was moving clear across the country. Being married to someone in the military meant frequent moves. We moved to Newport News, Virginia and I applied to CNU. My Junior year at CNU was the most difficult thing I ever went through. I wanted to finish as quickly as possible so that I could focus on my family and use my degree to get us out of the financial rut that we were in, so I loaded up on classes. Not only that but, I had to work a part time job to pay for childcare. AND I was without the comfort of my parents AND in a new state going through culture shock.
My experience at CNU was very different then my first two years at ENMU. School was only a PART of my life, it was not my whole life. My peers there didn’t look at me differently than any other, after all I was still around their age, and I still dressed like a typical college student. Being a parent doesn’t have to completely change everything about you, just your priorities. Anyways, nobody had a clue that I was married with a child. Only when I told them would their mouths drop in shock. Their reactions didn’t bother me much, for I was content with my life. I think what was most shocking to them was the fact that each day after school I would have to go pick up my child, prepare dinner, tuck them in bed, all before cracking a book to study. Often times I would only get four hours of sleep and fuel up on coffee.
By my senior year I was a pro at the juggling act. I had a daily routine going and I was enjoying school again. Alex was assigned a year tour over seas so that lighten up my load a bit. All I had to focus on that year was my daughter and graduating. School itself is Not difficult, the courses, the materials. However, what is hard is fitting school into an already busy life. Difficult but not unmanageable. You just need to have a great support system, self-discipline , and a routine.
I look back at it all, and I actually miss being in school. I enjoyed the atmosphere and all the awesome courses that I took. Such as Archeology, where I got to actually digging up artifacts or the Colonial America class where we visited Thomas Jefferson’s home. All my art classes where I was able to express myself creatively. Going to college was the best challenge of my life, I’m thinking about going back…cause now I’m kind of bored.