Friday, January 28, 2011

Graduation is a magic word

Graduation is a magic word. This June at the age of sixty-five I am finally completing my lifelong dream. I am graduating from University with a Bachelor of Arts. I graduated from Grade 12 when I was sixteen and immediately entered the working world. There were six children in the family – my parents couldn’t afford to give even one of us a higher education. Over the years I have often wanted to return to school and get a university degree. I knew that I could hold my own in most conversations, write a good report, read at a high level, answer the Jeopardy questions and win most of the time at Trivial Pursuit, but I wanted that elusive piece of paper that said I was educated.

Most people told me I was foolish, that I didn’t need it. But for almost fifty years it has niggled at the back of my mind. When I had the chance to return to school, I chose College as the less expensive and shorter alternative that could help me find a new career path. I was fifty at the time and I had a son to support so taking at least three years out of the work force and going deeply in debt seemed a huge barrier to going to University. I didn’t realize that it still was an ambition of mine until my younger sister earned her B.A. in her forties taking courses part-time. After I turned sixty I discovered that Laurentian would let me take my university degree from home while I worked and give me a reduction in tuition fee because of my age. They also gave me credits towards my degree for the college diplomas that I had earned.

Now I was in my glory. I investigated programs that intrigued me. I took courses in music, anthropology, classical studies, philosophy and psychology. I had professors tell me that I saw things from a different point of view. I finally settled on religious studies, not as a step towards the ministry but as a way to broaden my mind and learn more about people and the current pluralism in religion. I took courses in nature based religions, eastern religions, the Old and New Testament, new wave religion and the paranormal. My journey wasn’t always smooth. I switched jobs and got so far behind that I failed two courses. Old age kicked in and I went to an exam two days late and failed the course. All I could do was pick myself up and start over. I paced myself and set a plan of action to make sure I stayed on track and completed all the assignments on time. I worked on getting myself off academic probation and closer to my degree.

Now as I write this note, I know that I am only four assignments and two exams from my goal. I will succeed and I will graduate this spring. I am old enough to be the grandmother of many in my graduating class but I feel young again and I am looking forward to that day and I am so proud of myself. This will be a day I hold in my heart for the rest of my life.