Both of my daughters are graduating this spring.
Guzzy is graduating from High School with her same-age friends; an incredible accomplishment given that she missed much of her junior year of school due to her battle with anorexia. This year has been a heavy academic load; and while it was a bumpy ride–she ultimately rose to the challenge. Guzzy has been accepted into two good UW schools; but has wisely decided to take a gap year to breathe, grow, consolidate her recovery, and evaluate her next steps.
My oldest daughter, Kelly, is changing careers. After a ten-ish year run as an entomologist she tired of working with cockroaches (I am referring to the actual insects–not to her co-workers) and has recently graduated from an 18-month teaching program at the University of Minnesota. Combined with her undergrad, she is certified to teach Spanish and ESL in K-12. She is a couple credits shy of a masters–which is intentional so that she and her classmates won’t be priced out of range for available teaching positions.
This 18 month program required that Kelly simultaneously student-teach; attend college classes and keep up with her twin toddlers at home. Kelly has always been an incredibly hard-worker, with a laser focus on her goals; so it is no surprise that she was able to sustain a schedule that would have reduced most of us to drooling zombies.
It occurs to me that neither I or my 3 children took a traditionally linear approach to higher education. My son took a couple ‘gap’ years on his path to achieve his physics undergrad; Kelly has taken a second-pass at her education to change fields; and Guzzy is taking a time-out to reset and assess before jumping into college. Perhaps we are genetically disposed to indecision and/or dawdling. I prefer to think of it as reserving the right to get smarter over time; a philosophy I still invoke on a regular basis.
I was 29 before I graduated from College. At the time I had two young children, an unhealthy marriage, four job offers, and a lot of student debt. A degree in Computer Systems was a major accomplishment that provided the means for the financial independence that ultimately allowed me to take control of my own life, and to provide a better life for my children. I still consider it one of the hallmark accomplishments of my life–all the more sweet because my path through college was not traditional or easy.
This graduation season provides an opportunity to take a time-out from the busy-ness of live and celebrate important milestones. For myself, I will be raising a glass to both my daughters and to myself – its been a hell of a ride.