Today is commencement day and no, I'm not graduating but I will be in about two years. However, this day compels me to reflect on the long journey that has made up my secondary education. This year, the dream of graduating from college is closer to reality than it has ever been. College has always been an important part of my family but not necessarily an easy road. My mom is an alum of UMass Boston as is my aunt, who also works there. My dad went to school in Mississippi and another aunt recently completed her bachelors and she is over the age of 60! There are ministers, doctors, principals and accountants in my family, so you can see part of why this means so much. Furthermore, my maternal grandfather (we'll dub him Triple H) was a staunch believer in Black history and civil rights and always believed education was the key to success.
I started college about 9 years ago, fresh out of high school with not a clue of what was truly involved. I knew I liked planes so I blindly picked out a school in FL, ERAU, the top aviation school in the country. Yeah, and top dollars too. "No worries," I though and after a year, transferred to DWC. Great place, did a lot of soul-searching, rediscovered my musical talent and ended up at Berklee. Another top dollar school. Subsequently, I gave up for a few years and just worked full-time. I was in a funk for several years, not knowing what direction I was headed and thinking that maybe it wasn't meant for me to graduate or get a degree.
Now I'm back in school, paying for it myself and working my butt off. The credits from my previous schools paid off and I've achieved the 75 credits out of 120 needed to graduate. All my gen. ed. requirements are finished and I'm just focusing on my recently declared major of music. The best part of all this is my 3.7 GPA! (believe me when I say that my GPA at past schools was NEVER this high!)
Overall, I wish I had attended UMass Boston many years back but I still don't think I would have grasped what it meant to be in college. Being African-American, I know about the struggles my people have endured to obtain education and how blessed I am to even have this privilege; I never let that thought stray far from my mind. I'm older and wiser now, and just more settled. I know what I want and I'm not letting anything (short of money) get in my way. I had to experience the hardships of the "real world" firsthand and came to realize I need this degree. I've never really been a quitter and even though it's taken 9 years to get to this point, it's worth it. I used to want to impress people with where I attended school but now I know it's not about the opinions of family or friends, it's about me. I'm doing this to prove to myself, to get past this challenge and if I keep up this pace, I'll finally be able to walk across that stage like those before me and say I did it.