I was born and raised in the northeast corner of Florida (the Jacksonville area, to be exact). That would be December 1963. Florida was a great place to be at that time, as the Space Race was gearing up to kick into overdrive as the USA raced to be the first to put a man on the moon. We were surrounded by the Space Industry in Florida in the 1960s and 1970s. And, like most young boys of the era, all I wanted to be was an astronaut. I lived and breathed space sciences and astronautics. I was fanatical about it and astronomy. I didn’t have one telescope, I had three: two refractors and a reflector. I spent countless hours of my childhood and my teen years sitting out in the fields behind our house, studying the moon, the planets, and the stars. I dreamed of becoming a professional astronomer/astronaut.
I graduated high school in 1981 and headed off to the University of Florida on a honors scholarship to start my major in astronomy. A funny thing happened on my way to my goal: I got sidelined. A combination of poor academic advisement, extreme parental pressure, and a serious lack of self-confidence led me to abandon my lifelong dream. I settled for something else. Oh, I graduated from the University of Florida, got a decent degree, followed by a decent job. But I had abandoned my true dream.
I have made some less than excellent choices in my life, but this was the biggest mistake of them all. Circumstances conspired to make it impossible to repair this damage and, as the years passed, it became a lost dream.
Fast-forward to today. The world of 2013 is not the world of 1985. A lot has changed, especially in the world of academia and general learning. And it is this that has led me to my great decision: I have decided to fix that bad choice I made in 1982 when I abandoned my dream. I’m going after it. I have discovered a University which offers a B.S. with Honors program in Astronomy and you can do it entirely online. I am going to do it. This time, I will complete it and earn my degree. Will I ever be able to use it to become a professional astronomer? At this age (I’m 6 months away from being 50!), I don’t know. But, at least I will have achieved the dream I started all those years ago. That mistake has been at the core of my depression all of these years and it is time to set things right and do what I want to do for me and no one else.
Now, I just have to find the money! (It’s always something, but I can deal with that.)