I’ve had a couple of days now spending time on my own around my campus. It’s very large, very beautiful, and has its share of histories around every corner. I love that about it. I can turn a corner and remember sweet somethings from my own past when I was dating my husband, or wonder about what my Dad saw or did when he was here a short time. The stories and memories run much deeper than my own small self, they run through thousands of people who have either attended or worked at this school. On last Thursday, as I was waiting for my BSN orientation to start I had some quiet time to reflect on what the University has ment to me and my family.
My husband and I have an odd fact in common. Both of our fathers started but never graduated from this campus. My dad came from a family where people mostly graduated from high school, sometimes went on to technical school, and pretty much never went to a four year college. He had dreams of becoming a forestry major. He would have been brilliant at that. A true native american and most at home in the woods, it’s a job I think would have made him happy. However, he had very poor advising and no real support from his immediate family. He was basically set up to fail from the start. The final straw for him came when he found out that the son of the president of the United States graduated with a forestry degree and could not find a job. My dad is nothing if not a practical man, and saw no point in staying. He was already dating my mom and wanted to know he could securely support her in a marriage. Together they paid his way through school at Dunwoody and he became a very good auto mechanic instead. I love my dad, I love what he has accomplished. In his lifetime, he went from living in the poorest sections of New Orleans and Minneapolis to rasing a thriving family in the suburbs. College turned out to be a bad track with poor outcomes for him. He has proven his amazing leadership skills and intelligence time and time again by both advancing his way up the Army reserves and leading a Boy Scout troop for my brothers. I do wonder sometimes how my childhood would have been different if I were raised in a state park though.
My husbands dad set out to be a music teacher. It was the same path that some of his older brothers had previously chosen and seemed like a good fit to start. He got a job as a janitor to help pay his way through school in the local public school district, but decided in the end that his current job was a better fit than staying in college. He married his wife, put her through her second bachelors degree and raised a happy family with no degree at all. Two men in my life walked these streets, strode across this mall, and left with no degree.
Lastly I think of my husband, and the two and a half years he invested in this campus. He was in his sophomore year at the U when I first knocked on his door. From the night we first met, we were both changed. We just knew, that was it. At the time we started to become acquainted, he was already on his way out of school. The classes he was signed up for just were not meshing for him, and our foggy plans for the future just didn’t seem to have room for messing around with a half-baked plan for maybe getting a degree. He left the U, enrolled in a two year degree, and has been climbing steadily up ever since. He makes a nice life for us, is continuing his education as it’s relevent to his job, and now supporting me on my journey to campus. For all three of these men, a traditional degree from this large school turned out not to be the answer. I find it funny that none of the women in my life are included directly in the tradition of either attending or leaving this institute. Also, these are not sad stories. They are just simply life at work. You left college? Sounds like life to me.
I however, have not taken the traditional route here. I am coming at it all backwards as a 29 year old women with responsibilities on my shoulders. I do not have room for failure or changing my mind. I am dead set and determined to succeed with every task that is set before me. In the spring of 2013, with my family at my side, I will walk up on stage and accept the honor we have already worked so hard for. And I wont just be doing it for me, but everyone I love. I hope that someday my children will know how hard we’ve worked to get this far and appreciate the benefits that they will reap from it. We may have a history of failure behind us, but most certainly, I am following our tradition of success.