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Chesapeake Graduate Perfects Delicate Balancing Act
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
WYE MILLS Kim Freeman, a Stevensville resident, this week added "write commencement speech" to her already lengthy to-do list.
Freeman, a 38-year-old working mother of two children, will receive her associate´s degree May 24 in Teacher Education along with more than 220 graduates at Chesapeake College. She will also receive the John T. Harrison Award, Chesapeake´s highest student honor, and deliver remarks to her fellow graduates.
In naming her the Harrison Award recipient, Chesapeake is honoring Freeman for her academic achievement, service to the community and involvement at Chesapeake.
"Kim is an excellent representative of the Teacher Education program at Chesapeake College; her dynamic personality and dedication to both academics and service will make her an exceptional educator," said Dr. Deanna Stock, chair of the Education Department at Chesapeake College.
Freeman has been serving the college´s community as a Chesapeake College Ambassador. In addition, she has worked with volunteer organizations such as Greyhound Rescue and Adopt-a-Bear; participated in the Avon Breast Cancer 60-mile, three-day walk; and been both a volunteer coach and referee in local youth soccer leagues. Freeman also volunteers at her children´s schools whenever she can.
In addition to being recognized for community service and celebrating her academic achievement, Freeman this week is preparing for an addition to her family. She and her husband, an Annapolis police officer, are expecting a baby in early September.
Freeman said she plans to begin her bachelor´s degree program next year. She will take the fall semester off and then will enter Salisbury University in January for spring semester classes. Once she completes her bachelor´s degree, Freeman said she would like to get a teaching job in Queen Anne´s County.
The graduate said that now that she has earned her associate´s degree, she is confident that she can achieve her future goals.
In February, Freeman was selected to represent all of Maryland´s community college students on Student Advocacy Day in Annapolis. She gave an emotional speech detailing her own experiences, which are representative of many older students at community colleges.
"I came back to school because I wanted more out of life. I was tired of the dead-end jobs and realized there was only one way to get to a place in my life where I wanted to be," Freeman said.
What followed her decision to come back to college was a complicated schedule of classes, work and family responsibilities. Freeman said the family operates on a detailed calendar to make sure everyone stays on schedule.
"I knew that I would have to be incredibly organized from the beginning or this just wouldn´t work. Once you are an adult, you realize that you have choices and know that the sacrifices you make today will pay off tomorrow," Freeman said. "I try to disrupt the family rhythm as little as possible. I try to work my classes and study in around their schedules. So that means I have to go to bed late and wake up early to get in some study time, for example."
The sacrifices, Freeman said, are not limited to her own. Her husband and children have also made contributions.
"My education really is a team effort. My husband has a demanding job, but he also works hard at home to keep things on track. My children are very understanding and do what they can to pitch in," she said.
Freeman travels with two satchels to ensure that she´s never far from her homework. She´s become accustomed to studying notes in doctor´s offices or working on projects during her children´s sports practices.
Even before she graduates Wednesday, Freeman said she is seeing pay-off from all the sacrifices.
"Going back to college has given me the confidence I needed to develop my potential. I´ve always had the power, but I didn´t have the faith in my own abilities," Freeman said. "I feel like I´m now becoming the person that I´ve always wanted to be."
Freeman also credits her Chesapeake instructors with some of her success.
"From the beginning I felt supported by the faculty and staff at Chesapeake. They were rooting for me and did everything they could to keep me on track," she said.
Even as she celebrates her achievements, Freeman is tinkering with the family calendar. She has a busy day of commencement activities on May 24, but the children also have lacrosse practices. Freeman says she´s working on a plan to get everyone where they need to be.
"When life gets complicated, you have to focus on problems one step at a time. Sometimes taking things even one day at a time is too much. Life is like math. There is always an answer if you work through the steps one at a time," Freeman said.
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