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Part of Western Governors University

November 1, 2017

Student Success

Climbing my own Everest.

By Rachel Blust, B.A. Special Education

Rachel Blust Everyone has a Mount Everest in their life—a looming obstacle that seems daunting to overcome.

My Mount Everest was obtaining my college degree. And, just like Everest with its risks and hazards, I had an obstacle in my way. It was like a huge wall of ice. I did not see myself ever summiting my Everest because of this wall of ice—Math. Math was always my highest academic challenge, and I doubted my ability to overcome it.

Rachel Blust portrait

In my early 20s, I attended college and even took a math course designed for liberal arts majors. That didn’t work out. So, once again, I chose flight—a decision that would last 20 years. I became a massage therapist, because this career choice did not include math.

At my daughter’s elementary school, I stumbled into a position in the special education department. I fell in love with teaching. I have always enjoyed showing others how to do things, but never thought I could be a teacher. When I began to share with my colleagues my desire to finish my college degree in education, I was surprised at the level of support, encouraging me to go back to school.

I was ready to face my Everest, but that meant scaling that wall of ice. It was a moment of truth for me. How badly did I want to teach? Was it worth trying one more time? What I discovered was, yes, I wanted to be a teacher.

When I called WGU Texas, the first thing I said was “I don't know if this is going to work out because of the math courses.” But, WGU accepted me into the Teachers College. Validation that I could do this. It was time to climb my Everest.

I am fascinated by the type of person who looks at that mountain and thinks “I want to climb that.” I began to learn more about ice climbing, and was surprised to learn about the support climbers receive from Sherpas—the people in the background. They know the mountain. They live it and breathe it and they also carry the heavy loads.

Looking back on my journey from that first tentative call to WGU Texas to my last class, I realize I have summited. I had Sherpas helping me with the load. My Program Mentor, my Course Instructors, my family and friends, my colleagues who supported me without hesitation. Now, I can take my personal adversities and challenges and use them in the classroom. I can be the Sherpa for my students. I persevered and can help them reach their summits as well.

Today, I’m happy to report that I have earned my B.A. in special education and am working in a 7th grade math class all day long—quite fitting with my math struggles. My family, friends and personal Sherpas always knew I would summit. And, they were right. Now I will help others do the same.

Rachel Blust earned her B.A. in Special Education and is student teaching. Blust was a featured speaker at the WGU Texas commencement in Sept. 2017.

Commencement Speech Video

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