I have worked in the restaurant business for much of my adult life. I’ve done pretty well professionally, both as an owner and as a manager, and I am proud of the part I’ve played in the community and in people’s lives. But it’s a hard business, and a stressful one, with endless crises and never-ending staff turnover. A few years back, I began to realize that I didn’t want to pursue another ownership stake in a restaurant, that I was burning out. I was tired of working tirelessly to help make everybody’s family time fun, relaxing and delicious while my family was at home alone, without me. So I decided to go to tech school.

I was enrolled at Athens Tech for the entirety of 2012, getting all of my general education courses and a few introductory core courses out of the way. My original intent was to pursue an associate’s degree in computer networking. But the computer science department at Athens Tech is not robust: they no longer offer computer programming, and the only networking they teach is Microsoft. Last fall, at the urging of friends in the IT industry, I began to consider transferring to Gwinnett Tech so as to study either Cisco or Unix networking. At the same time, I found myself really enjoying my Intro to Programming Design class, a prerequisite for both networking and programming degrees. So I stood at a crossroads: if I was going to transfer to Gwinnett Tech anyway, I could choose to study any of several flavors of network engineering, or programming, or even information security. After a thorough review of class schedules and prerequisite requirements and potential salaries, I chose programming. I’m glad I did.

It’s not easy, mind you, though I’m not sure how hard it really is. I have no perspective on these things. I sorta stumbled into this stuff after years away from school. But I really enjoy it. It’s like scratching an itch I never quite knew I had. I especially enjoy the actual programming. And I’ve done well, so far. This spring I completed C++ I, Java I and SQL, all with A’s. This summer I’m taking Web Development I (basically HTML, XHTML & HTML5) and Systems Analysis & Design. Then in the fall I’ll take C++ II, Java II and Financial Accounting I.

Summer semester is shorter than spring and fall, and I’ve been warned that it will be intense, but it can’t be much more intense than this recent spring semester or I’m going to end up in the hospital. A full-time job, a full class-load and a baby boy can wear you down. It’s the lack of sleep that does it, really. You keep pushing forward even as you start to come unraveled.

But I’m excited. This summer should be fun. I love what I’m learning, I’m on the Dean’s List, and I get to play outside with my wife and son whenever I’m not studying or working. Life is good.

I’m a lucky man.


trees in our backyard

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