I used to be a career professional in higher education (at colleges and universities). I was a dissertation away from a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) in adult education in the mid-90’s from Nova Southeastern University. I earned a Master of Science degree (M.S.) in Education with a specialization in Higher Education/Student Personnel Services from Iowa State University (which is well known for its higher education graduate programs) in August 1991. I also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) from Iowa State in Art & Design (with a departmental minor in Psychology) which I received in 1985. I was an adult student in college before the term even became popular. And I went to college on the G.I. Bill. I went through the U.S. Army’s basic training program and was stationed in South Korea after Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) as a Transportation Movements Specialist (71N20). I was promoted from E-1 (Private) to E-4 (Specialist Four) within one year. I was promoted from E-1 to E-2 status after Basic Training, and to E-3 status after AIT, and I was promoted to E-4 in South Korea. And I received an Honorable Discharge.
I worked in the field of higher education for over 20 years before accepting a director position at a “for-profit” institution in another state that has left me unemployed for over six years now. My previous work in higher education had at been at “non-profit” colleges and universities. I was only employed at the “for-profit” for just under seven months (repeat–seven months) after working in my field for over 20 years (including my work at Iowa State University when I served as the Editorial Secretary for the Journal of Extension for two years while finishing up my bachelor’s degree which I received two weeks shy of my 33rd birthday). And, before I landed at that “for-profit” I worked for over four years each at several previous colleges and universities during those 20 years, including the university I worked for at the time I left to take the director position at that “for-profit” institute.
I have numerous reference letters going back to 1985 from all of the people (many were supervisors) at the colleges and universities that I worked for with the only exception being that “for-profit” institute where I worked for just under seven months that has left me unemployed all this time. And there is a common theme that runs through them, and the professionals who wrote those letters (between 1985 and 2008) certainly did not know each other. Without fail they mention my stellar work ethic and the quality of my work, and how well I served the students and was an advocate for them. They stated that I was a valued member of the organization, well qualified in both education and experience, detailed-oriented, organized, friendly and professional, and they all said I was a major asset to the organization.
To think that less than seven short months working at a “for-profit” would end a 20-year career in higher education is appalling to say the least, but that appears to be exactly what happened as I have been unemployed over six years now from that unfortunate experience.
That particular “for profit” has been in the news. Their stock on NASDAQ has gone from $20+ a share back then to barely 25 cents a share over the past several years. They also had major layoffs in 2012 (and continue to have layoffs to this day) and even the long term employee who got my job after I was fired in 2009 ended up losing it in the first round of layoffs in 2012. She was a woman I supervised who had worked there for several years, and she told me at the end of my first week of work there (she was on vacation the first three days when I started) that I was in “her” job (the director position) and not to bother her or expect her help in orienting me to the office and how they operated, and not to expect any cooperation from her. When I told my boss what she said to me, his response was, “She’ll get over it. She’s just mad because she didn’t get the job.” And he did nothing to change her attitude or support me in my role as supervisor from that point on. He never even gave me a chance from my very first day on the job when he left me alone in my office until the day I was let go almost seven months later.
Fast forward six years now . . . .
Nowadays I hear a lot of commercials on TV that talk about retirement planning. Mine went up in smoke when I lost that job through no fault of my own six years ago. Not only that, but I have been forced to live on my retirement funds for over three years now and they are significantly (repeat–significantly) depleted now. Did I mention I lost that job one month shy of my 57th birthday and I am now 62 (almost 63) and my father is still alive at 91 (so longevity runs in the family but my money will run out way before then). I was forced to take Social Security at 62 because I had no other income and no matter how many jobs I applied for starting the day after I lost that job six years ago (I stopped counting at 500 in 2011) nobody ended up hiring me, even though in the first year to year and a half I had many very successful interviews. In fact, I would sail through the interviews and sometimes a second interview, and then–nothing. And before I worked at that “for-profit,” I never had a problem finding a job in my entire life.
For the past six years I have not been able to contribute to Social Security or my retirement plan because I can’t find a job. In fact, I have been forced to live on both my social security (I started receiving my monthly check on July 23, 2014) and my retirement funds just to survive financially. I am now 62 and where do you think I will be at 70, or even 65, at this rate? I have lost over $312,000 in lost wages if you go by the salary I was paid at that job–$52,000/yr.–and that doesn’t include any annual increase I might have received over those years. And I have had no health insurance since my Cobra insurance ran out in July 2010, and I can’t afford Obamacare on my Social Security income. And there are plenty of others just like me all across America. I heard a figure just the other day on the real number of unemployed Americans still out there (most have given up looking for work) since this whole mess started in 2008 and that number was 20 million (I heard 27 million from another source).
Welcome to 21st Century America . . . .
You don’t even want to know what I have gone through these past six years. And there are a whole lot of us out here in similar types of situations who are mad as heck but that doesn’t affect anyone’s current salary or retirement account in Congress or those holding other political offices. So do they really care about the state of our economy or some of the unconscionable stuff that goes on in workplaces across America as long as their paychecks and retirement accounts (and health insurance plans that don’t include Obamacare) aren’t affected?
Does anybody care? Anybody? There are a heck of a lot of us out here–millions and millions–of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. This is AMERICA, folks. We are U.S. citizens, born and bred, and we are often treated as being less than the immigrants and illegal aliens.
What is wrong with this picture? Do we now have to consider moving to a foreign country just to get ahead?
You tell me . . .
We need help, Washington . . .
Corruption and greed are killing this country . . . .
YouTube Video: “Made in America” by Toby Keith: