It’s never too late to take a little walk on the path to educationLast week I participated in WITC’s graduation ceremony. It was a short walk that took 33 years to complete while I first raised children and at least pointed them in the right direction.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
Last week I participated in WITC’s graduation ceremony. It was a short walk that took 33 years to complete while I first raised children and at least pointed them in the right direction.
Over those years, I amassed a good deal of education in bits and pieces, completing courses that applied to my work situations or otherwise interested me. Those pieces didn’t fit together for any completed degree program.
My latest venture into education was no different. I started out taking courses in graphic design to catch up on the rapidly changing technology in the field. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add in some marketing to fit my job at the time. I threw in business management for good measure and the next thing I knew, I was looking at a degree.
To say that I was concerned about being the oldest student at a college offering two-year degrees is an understatement. More accurately, I had nightmares of sticking out like a slow-learning, old grandmother among the much younger — and quicker — student body. As it turned out I found myself in an age-diverse population and not exactly the freak-show attraction I’d imagined I would be.
Fast forward to near completion when an instructor asked me if I was going to walk for graduation. I said no, I’d look silly with all those young kids.
A few weeks later, another encouraged me. I said I wasn’t sure. I caved when my husband joined the crusade. I’d worked hard to accomplish my goal and he felt I should let others share in that.
He played a huge part in this accomplishment. Through frustrated tears over new math I didn’t understand, age-related memory challenges, late-to-the-table dinners, neglected social activities and putting up with a distracted, exhausted wife for most of the last two years, his support never wavered.
Two of my daughters sat with him in the auditorium. The third couldn’t cut class to get here on time — now that she’s the teacher. She declared her congratulations to me via that billboard we know as Facebook, along with her thanks that I’d always stressed the importance of education. That’s when I realized the culmination of my academic endeavor was about so much more than myself.
She jogged my memory of my father’s resolve, receiving his master’s degree in education when I, the youngest of four children, was far past old enough to remember the event. I remembered, too, his fervent wish to see at least one of his children receive a college diploma.
So the truth is, if it had been solely up to me I wouldn’t have taken that walk. The truth is, I did stand out like a sore thumb and I did feel a little foolish among the mostly 20-somethings.
The truth is I did the all the work for personal satisfaction and to validate a career’s worth of experience, but the walk? The walk was entirely to say thank you; to my husband who stood by me and my daughters who learned from my determination. And especially to my father who not only set the standard but also the example. Wherever he is, I hope he saw his wish come true.
It’s never too late to learn something new, especially appreciation for what others have done.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.