Austin Walsh currently works for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs while pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Government: Public Administration. He is a volunteer at Christian Outreach in Action, a non-profit agency in Long Beach, CA that engages with those who are in need of food and clothing. He is married with three children, and will be starting his graduate program in the near future.
In a few days, I will be finished with my degree: a Bachelor of Science in Government. I want to let all of you know, that if I can do it, so can you.
Never forget why you are here. Some of us are at Liberty to improve the likeliness of securing a new position. Some feel the calling to pursue a new meaning in life. Some will go on to advance their education. And some, unfortunately, will drop out. It is the latter that I wish to address in hopes that if I can reach out to just one student—just one—then this post will not be made in vain.
When I started Liberty Online two years ago, I felt, at times, that finishing felt insurmountable. There were uncontrollable situations that put an impediment on my time, my life, and my studying. About one month at Liberty, I received a phone call from the Department of Children and Family Services. My ex-wife had a domestic incident. The children were to be placed fully in my care. For a year, DCFS was in my life. Literally. I was working 100-120 hours in a two-week period. Some shifts were 17-hour shifts. I was exhausted. Tired. But, I continued on. I didn't give up.
About one semester through Liberty, I got a phone call that my grandfather was killed in a motorcycle accident. He lived in Arizona. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. He was a Marine and the most influential person in my life. According to my Grandmother, he didn’t die instantly either. He was in and out of consciousness until he was pronounced dead at the hospital. I wish he was alive today. If there was anyone who I wish I could bring back, it would be him. But God has him now.
Six months into Liberty, I reported rampant fraud, waste, and abuse within the federal government. Rather than reporting to the Inspector General, which would have led to arrests and prosecution, I chose to keep it at the lowest level possible. This has resulted in a year and a half of retaliation and subtle retribution by people who do not share my commitment to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It has been quite an experience. I am a whistleblower. But you won’t hear about it in the news. It isn’t fit to print. But the retaliation gave me fuel. Fuel to succeed.
A year into LU, I struggled with the reality of not having a child with my wife (I am remarried). The doctors told us that we had a 5% chance of having a child. My wife went through severe depression. At the age of 38, she felt her time was running out. It was hard to watch. Someone who is continuously at your side, just fall. Figuratively, not literally. Despite the 5% chance, on July 12th, Raymond Walsh was born into the world. He is a gift from God. I thank Him every day.
These four incidents, involving government intervention into my private life, the death of a cherished loved one, the retaliation for standing against corruption, and watching my wife battle with depression has given me grey hair, but it has not stopped me from finishing my degree. It hasn’t made me throw in the towel, it has made me stronger.
For those of you who feel that you are up against an insurmountable mountain in life, remember that what challenges lay ahead can only make you stronger. Don't quit. Everything comes to an end, whether good or bad, nothing lasts forever. Your time will come. Believe me. Mine has.
I wish all of you the best for the duration of your time at LU and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.