Where is the next step going to take us?

The unexpected twists of life challenge every college student. Few people rise to meet those challenges as well as Northeast State students Calvin and Misty Gobble.

“You have to take things one day at a time,” said Calvin, a business major at Northeast State. “Some days are better than others; you can’t let yourself get discouraged.”

Northeast State students Calvin and Misty Gobble.

Northeast State students Calvin and Misty Gobble.

A United States Army veteran, Calvin Gobble endured multiple surgeries and years of debilitating leg pain. He ultimately underwent a full knee replacement which left him unable to continue at his former job with the U.S. Postal Service. A mountain of red tape later, the Veterans Administration granted him a disability waiver that enabled him to seek a college degree.

Misty Gobble suffered a traumatic brain injury from an automobile accident in 1996. She spent months of intense therapy at a Charlottesville, Va., rehabilitation hospital learning to walk, talk, eat, and read again. Expectations were not high for her recovery.

Calvin and Misty decided to return to college and restore their professional lives at Northeast State. While the past couple of years have been challenging, the couple found great support from their families and friends. Calvin’s father currently faces serious health issues but remains determined to see his son graduate from college.

“Your parents want to see you succeed no matter how old you are,” said Calvin. “I hope our kids can see mom and dad accomplishing goals and the idea that you can do anything sinks in when they see us do it.”

After Calvin enrolled at Northeast State in 2016, Misty opted to enroll, too, and pursue a new path. That meant an adjustment for the family including their two daughters Kara and Brooklyn. For working families with children, the days include school events, softball practices, piano lessons, and church. The Gobbles managed to juggle these responsibilities and even thrive as college students.

“You have to find a balanced schedule between school and family,” said Calvin. “The fall semester of 2016 was my toughest so far, but I persevered with Misty and the help of our both or families.”

Before her accident, Misty worked as a licensed massage therapist for 10 years. While a good career, the daily grind of a licensed health care worker lost its appeal to her. After spending several years substitute teaching, she switched her major Early Childhood Education this spring. Misty said the classroom brought her to a place where she belonged.

“I’ve been substituting for the last five years and completely fell in love with it,” she said. “My mother started college for a secretarial certificate but ended up pursuing a degree in education and becoming a teacher.”

Misty expects to earn her associate of applied science degree in Early Childhood Education within the next two years. She credited the TRiO Student Support Services program at Northeast State as a huge help to her development as a student. The willingness of faculty to help students learn works wonders for an individual’s morale, she added.

“The faculty take the time to tell you what you are learning,” she said.

Calvin will graduate with his associate’s degree in December. He plans to enroll at King University and pursue his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He praised the College’s Office of Veterans Affairs for their constant support through many tough times.

The Gobbles say their marriage and faith sustained them through the trials. The couple recently returned to the rehabilitation hospital where Misty was treated. Needless to say, the  hospital staff was amazed and joyful about how far she had come.

“She’s a wonderful mother and truly my inspiration to keep going,” said Calvin. “I see her internalize what we’ve learned together and how she passes that on to our daughters.”

Where the good-feeling ideas and “rah-rah” speeches end, the courage to greet every day is sometimes difficult to live. The Gobbles managed to overcome various challenges. Like so many non-traditional college students, they sought to reinvent themselves and chose Northeast State as the launching pad.

“The best things in life don’t come without hard work,” said Calvin. “I look at it as what is the next step and where is the next step going to take us.”

– Tom Wilson