I should be celebrating, but I'm just too numb. For weeks I've been anticipating this night, and all day long I've been thinking, "this is it, tonight is it". So, why am I numb? I think the answer to that is because it has taken me 40 years to get to this night. You see, 40 years ago this spring I graduated from high school and tonight I completed my undergraduate degree (yes, now you know my age, but that's okay). I didn't do this the right way, but I know that this was the way God intended it to be for me.
I started out on the right track after graduation. Two years at a junior college and one year at a major university, and then life got in the way. I always wanted to go back to school, but it just wasn't meant to be. And, then I found out about Concordia University's local campus that offered an Accelerated Degree Program one night a week. Even then I think it took a year or two before I finally finished the application. Three and half years ago, on a very cold February night I sat down in a classroom and started back to school.
It has not been easy, but I stuck with it. It was hard to work all day and then go to school until 10 p.m. knowing that after I got home and would get to bed that my alarm would be ringing all too soon to start me on another day. It was hard to come home at night and spend my entire evening on homework. It was hard to give up my weekends. It was hard to abandon my sewing room, my books, and my yard. It was hard and it took discipline.
College was different the second time around. No lecture halls with lectures and final exams. Now it was small classes and, in most cases, interactive learning. I learned that I learned a lot from doing a final paper and presentation, much more than I would have if I had crammed for a final exam. I learned a lot from classmates, too, in the discussions that we had in most classes. There was no smoking in the hallways (thank heaven, I hated that), but we didn't have a cafeteria or coffee shop to congregate in either. And, sadly, the bookstore was in Austin and they delivered our books to us, so no trips to the bookstore this time around (I loved the bookstores with books, supplies, t-shirts, big spiral notebooks, etc.). The internet has changed college, too. I had two online classes (very interesting and enjoyable to interact with students all over the US) and in most classes I submitted work online and/or took quizzes online. It was different, but not all bad either. It worked for me anyway.
Tonight as I drove home I had a flood of emotions. A little joy, a few tears, and a thankful heart. Thankful for my dear Daddy who left me enough money to go to a small private university; how he valued education and I appreciate the fact that while he struggled to put himself through Ole Miss he put all of us through school, too. Thankful for family, friends, and school staff who supported me. Thankful that God helped me through it and sent the little voice to remind me to "stay the course" whenever I got overwhelmed.
Tonight, on a very hot August night I walked out of school and knew that I did it, I did it. I made it through and it only took me 40 years!