Friday, May 30, 2014

Student success profile: Mother takes her own advice to get college education

Melissa Hurst
Melissa Hurst always told her children they needed to secure a good college education. When she found herself at yet another job with no future, Hurst heeded her son’s advice and decided it was time to pursue a higher education degree herself.

At age 45, she enrolled at Grossmont College.

“My son says, `You know, you’re the one who kept telling us to go to college. Well…’” Hurst said. “So he sat me down in front of the computer and said `Let’s do this.’”

The Casa de Oro resident is now a media and communications major with an emphasis in film who aspires to become a movie producer. She just wrapped up  her freshman year, receiving a financial boost when awarded a Christy Seiler Davis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500 this spring.

After raising four children and working several jobs, Hurst found that going back to college a bit unnerving. At least initially.

“I was really apprehensive,” Hurst said. “I’ve taken workshops and work-related classes here and there, but I hadn’t really been to school in a long time. I found, though, that if you stay organized and on top of things, going to college is nothing you can’t handle.”

In an essay for the Christy Seiler Davis Memorial Scholarship, Hurst wrote, “It is hard to believe that time slipped by so quickly and that I m literally starting over.”

Hurst was born in Lansing, Mich., but grew up in San Diego County and graduated from Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley. She took a couple classes at Mesa College in San Diego more than a quarter-century ago, but wasn’t focused on school. “I just wanted to be out on my own,” Hurst said.

She ended up marrying her high school sweetheart, and they now have four children ranging in age from 16 to 25. Hurst landed a job as a receptionist and, through a series of promotions, ended up working in accounting. Realizing she had a knack for numbers, she enrolled in a vocational school and earned a certificate in computerized accounting. But the Great Recession struck the Hurst family hard. Her husband was laid off. The family lost its home. Then Hurst lost her job.

Hurst, who said she had always been drawn to the stage, got a job with Young Actors Theatre in Spring Valley. She ended up virtually running the organization, producing such performances as Hairspray, Legally Blonde and Beauty and the Beast.  But when grant funding ran out, Hurst again found herself without a steady income.

A friend helped her find employment with a company that does workers compensation investigations. While she still works there, Hurst wanted more.

She turned to Grossmont College, where she is a full-time student.

She says it was one of the best decisions she has made.

“Some of the instructors I have had have been amazing,” Hurst said. “I’ve been impressed with the teachers I’ve had here. It is a great school.”

Hurst is determined to succeed in a filmmaking career. And she is getting plenty of support from Grossmont College.

“I want to show my kids that it is never too late to reinvent yourself,” Hurst wrote in an essay while applying for the Christy Seiler Davis Memorial Scholarship. “Hard work and a belief in your own abilities can make all the difference.”