This is college commencement season for many people, myself included. I was supposed to be (finally) crossing the stage to receive my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with Forensic Focus. It was such a long time in coming because right out of high school, I attended for two full years, then stopped. I didn’t drop out. I didn’t flunk out. I never saw it as quitting. I simply chose not to return.
Fast forward twenty-three years when I, along with millions of other Americans, was let go from my job and found myself unemployed, and seemingly unemployable. So I, like so many other Americans, decided it was time to get my degree. I applied to the local college taking courses in Crime Scene Technology, and spent the next two years doing that, even when I did eventually find a job. Three straight semesters with a 4.0 GPA. I was on a roll and nobody was going to stop me.
Nobody did. Unfortunately, our circumstances changed and we ended up moving away from the area and again, I had to stop attending. A few years later, it was bothering me that I had put in so much time and effort and still had nothing to show for it. Nothing of substance, anyway. So after discussing things with my husband, I decided to combine the studies I had done to that point and applied for a Psychology program with a focus on Forensics in an online program.
So after another few years, give or take, I reached my last semester. I had pulled off a 4.0 through a great deal of hard work, and was awarded the Outstanding Student in the BA Psychology program along with another 29 students who also completed with a 4.0 GPA. I finished my degree 30 years after graduating high school, a somewhat fitting end to a long educational career. And today was going to be my walk (strut) across the stage. Only it didn’t happen.
Somehow it just didn’t seem as important today as it had been a few months ago. I wanted to make my husband proud, because he was my biggest supporter throughout the whole thing. He would give me pep talks when I felt too darned old to be in school. He would make me omelettes for breakfast or grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch when I was neck-deep in a Sociology project or racking my brain trying to understand Statistics two semesters in a row.
So instead of walking to the podium and receiving my diploma, I sat in my bedroom, iPad in hand, and listened to name after name after name being called to receive their diplomas. There were so many graduates (I couldn’t begin to tell you how many) that I eventually got bored and ended up missing my name being called (assuming it was called, because I’m honestly not sure how that works). The only saving grace is that I didn’t put on my cap and gown like I had been contemplating. How embarrassing would that have been??
When all is said and done, however, the commencement ceremony itself is unimportant. I earned the degree (and believe me, I earned it. Motivation is entirely different going back to school later in life; it wasn’t enough to pass, I needed to get straight As.) Sadly, I’ll never have the distinction of Summa Cum Laude, though. Having transferred in so many credits, I was about 2 or 3 courses shy of meeting the minimum credits to qualify. Again, unimportant. I know what I know and I’m proud of it, with or without the official accolade.
I know my greatest fan was watching today and I’ve no doubt he was paying attention when they called my name. And that’s all that really matters to me…
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