June 18, 2005

Better Late Than Never

Yesterday I took my last final exam of the quarter in the morning and walked at the graduation ceremony in the evening.

I wasn't going to go, it's 'only' my associates degree, and I've still got one more class to take this summer (they only hold one ceremony, so Winter and Summer quarter graduates are invited to go, too.) I'm glad I did, though. It reminded me how much work has gone into the last two and a half years, and all the help and support that got me to this point.

It also reminded me that for a long time I'd believed that I couldn't ever go to college. I didn't believe I could succeed, and even if I could, when would I ever have the time or the money? Anyway, that's something you're supposed to do right after high school, and it would be too long until I was finished. Finally, with a little poking and prodding from people who care, I decided to just go ahead with it anyway.

Last night at commencement, the school's president informed us that the ages of the graduating class ranged from 17* to over 60, and that the average age was 27. I'm a little older than that average, and a little younger than the work-study psychology student sitting in front of me who graduated with a perfect 4.0. The nursing graduates cheered en masse for every single degree recipient from their small, highly successful program, and their average age was somewhere in the low 30s. One young woman carried her toddler through the ceremony, a very well behaved little girl.

A lot of hard work went into these degrees, and for many graduates, a lot of hardship for themselves and their families. It was, without irony or cynicism, more inspiring than I expected.

I'm going to be joining the 2/3 of our graduating class that plans to transfer to a four-year school. Not so long ago, I never would have believed it was possible. If I could go back and give myself of a few years ago any advice, it would be to stop waiting for the right time. If you have the desire, now is already the right time to start moving towards the things you barely dare to dream about.

There's probably a larger political point to be made here concerning the obstacles the Bush administration is throwing in the paths of future students, particularly those who depend the most on federal aid for their chance to get ahead. Or maybe a deeper question about why, in contrast to most other developed nations, this society doesn't seem to believe in the benefits conferred on everyone by strongly supporting the development of a more skilled work force. However, I'm headed off for an evening of quality brain holiday (it's going to happen whether I enjoy or not, so hey...), and I'll just have to get back to you on that.

* WA State has a program that allows high school students to attend a community college during high school and earn transferrable college credit. They can even work towards their associates' and high school degrees at the same time, as a fellow staffer at the school paper did. I don't know if that's something specific to the state or nationally available, but it's a tremendous opportunity.

Posted by natasha at June 18, 2005 06:03 PM | Miscellaneous | Technorati links |

Congratulations, natasha! That next degree will be in your hands before you know it, but this is one to definitely savor.

Posted by: Mary at June 18, 2005 06:20 PM

I was thirty-nine when I completed my "Associates" - having dropped out of high school at fifteen to work on a cattle ranch. With my children in the audience, I walked. So too with my Bachelors, and next year, with grand-children in the audience, I'll walk for my Masters.

You go Girl!

Posted by: Thomas Ware at June 18, 2005 07:00 PM

Congratulations, Natasha!! That's great news! Way to go!

Posted by: Al-Muhajabah at June 18, 2005 08:00 PM

Congratulations, Natasha. Now, go catch up on your rest, please. ;-)

Oh, and when and where do we celebrate?

Posted by: palamedes at June 18, 2005 09:21 PM

Thanks, guys, you're sweet :)

& Congratulations to you, Thomas!

Posted by: natasha at June 19, 2005 11:39 AM

More congratulations for Natasha. :)

Did you get my email about having coffee? Sometimes my emails get marked as spam because of our "unique" domain name. Or maybe I just misunderstood.

My home care worker decided not to get her Associates and transfer right into UW and start working on her Bachelors. She's wicked smart in Mathematics and will probably will end up being a professor someday if only she can work through some serious issues that have been haunting her all her life.

Otherwise she ends up like me and nobody wants that.

Well done, everyone. Well done.



Posted by: Hanna at June 20, 2005 08:18 AM