Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Graduation Thoughts

I graduated yesterday at age 53 from the University of Utah with a BA in Mass Communication. It was a bittersweet day, filled with the excitement of finishing an almost-6 year project, reflecting on the past, looking toward the future, and sharing it with loved ones.

After the commencement ceremony

In front of the communication building, where I spent a lot of time.

With my dad

David McCullough, the historical writer, received an honorary degree and was the commencement speaker. For a history buff, it was a real treat. He compared our accomplishments with the building of the Brooklyn Bridge—the first man-made wonder in America. Here are some of the comments, among the many, that I appreciated:
"Had the American dream been handed to us all in tidy order, all done up with everything set to operate perfectly in perpetuity, we would hardly be the people we are."
"History can be a great source of inspiration. Learn from the past and don't take the 'familiar' things for granted."
"And make it your practice to ask people about themselves and what they've learned from experience. Don't ever forget that there isn't a man or woman, no matter their appearance or station in life, who doesn't know something, or how to do something, that you don't."

I loved my time at the U. I thought it was invigorating and exciting. My older sister, Barb, came for the ceremony, and after the commencement, but before the convocation where I actually walked across the stage, I showed her around the campus. It's a beautiful campus, set high on the hill, with a lot of trees and a combination of old and new buildings. She worked as an educator in the community college in Washington for 28 years, and was instrumental in talking me into going back to school. We agreed that one of the things we love about colleges is the enthusiasm and passion of the students, as well as expanding horizons.

I decided to go back to school thirty years after getting my associate degree from Ricks College (now BYU—Idaho) when I started feeling stale, and the youngest two were in high school. I suppose it was a form of mid-life crisis, but I also knew that if I didn't do something to update and further my work skills, I would end up in a dead-end job. So with the help and encouragement of family, friends, David, workmates, professors, and other students, I went to school part-time and had a wonderful, successful experience that has already helped my career. (By the way, my final grade in the statistics class was a lovely C! I feel really good about that, especially considering that I had only one (1) hour to study before the final.)
David has been great about supporting me, and we agreed that after we settle in to being empty-nesters, I may go back for a Masters degree in a few more years. I already have a project in mind: interviewing and writing about the affect of bipolar disorder on spouses.

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