I have parents who were both well educated with degrees, but as I went through school, I had no desire to pursue a college degree. I guess I felt burned out with formal education. After graduation, I worked and eventually decided to take a few college classes. But my heart was not in them.

A few years later, I continued my studies because my employer agreed to pay for me to take accounting classes. I enjoyed the classes for the most part, but still lacked the confidence to do well. I didn't believe that I was an "A" student, and my grades showed it.

After I got married, my husband, who was working on his Ph.D., encouraged me to take classes. He believed that I could do well and graduate, so encouraged by his belief, I started a whole new field of study—one that really interested me. I began studying classes that applied to my current interests in Marriage, Family and Human Development. This study was not for employment or any other motive, but to learn. I was now married and a mom, and I really appreciated the courses.

My husband arranged his schedule around my classes and studying. His encouragement and educational philosophies really affected me. For instance he didn't focus on grades in his own studies, but would read or do whatever it took to learn the subject well. This concept was foreign to me because I had been used to doing only part of what was assigned and nothing further. This time in school, I stopped worrying about grades, and instead I really tried to learn and do the assignments as well. It was an amazing turnaround for me. Instead of B's and C's, I consistently got A's in every class.

I did graduate (amazingly) and now, after a several-year break, my husband is encouraging me to get into a master's program. I am excited as I am interested in studying nutrition and how it affects the body's health. I have already been learning about these subjects, but do not yet have many of my questions answered.

It is refreshing and exhilarating to realize that we can learn whatever we decide to and gain knowledge at any time in life—with or without a formal education!

A hero of mine named Heber Jedediah Grant had a favorite motto from Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do—not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased." Heber took this to heart. Although his father was dead and his mother very poor, whatever he wanted to learn, he did learn through persistence and practice. For instance, one of Heber's teachers said his handwriting looked like chicken scratches. He felt bad about that, but didn't let it discourage him. He practiced and practiced handwriting for hours and hours. Eventually his handwriting became so good that he won first place at the Utah Territorial fair. Later he taught penmanship at the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah).

My in-laws have had a workout competition going since the first of the year. The person with the most minutes of exercise in three months wins. They do these competitions fairly regularly, but I've never participated before, using the excuse that I get enough exercise in my employment. But the real reason is that I've never enjoyed exercising at all and almost always avoid a regular workout plan.  This time around, though, I had added motivation because of a job I had applied for that required me to be in top shape.

One of the requirements of this job was to be able to run a mile in a certain amount of time. So I clocked a mile in our car and started “training.” I started off terribly. I was completely focused on the time and constantly looking at the watch as I ran. I was barely able to run a quarter of a mile before I had to walk.

I have a friend who thought he was unable to quit using cocaine. He had begun using it as a teenager. After a few years of using the drug, he decided to clean up his life. He completely stopped using it. Later he served as a missionary for his church and kept his life drug-free. After this mission experience, he went to school and lived a normal life for several years. Then he started using cocaine again.

His life went downhill from there. One by one he started giving up things he valued as they came into conflict with his drug use and his beliefs about it. He gave up practicing his religion though he said he still believed its principles. He gave up his close association with his family. He lost his job and moved to another country. His life got completely off track.

When I was a young child in the beginning of elementary school, I was in and out of class a lot. I was either seeing several doctors for a bone disease or having one of my multiple ear surgeries. While lying in the hospitals beds, I often dreamed of becoming a nurse or doctor so I could help other people.

Home schooling was like an unknown foreign language in our community; therefore, I had to keep up with the standard curriculum in the public school while I was away. My parents continually had to force me to do my homework. School became such a hassle since most of my experiences were focused on my health instead of my education. I often felt like an outsider from my peers, with all the school I had missed. I learned quickly that by doing the homework, I could get through the system during the rest of my school years.