To begin this post I am going to restate a post from August of this year, then make some concluding remarks.
I began college in August of 1996. That seems like a lifetime ago to be honest. In many ways it has been. So much has changed since then. We have had 5 presidential elections, most of them containing controversy. America has been attacked by terrorists. An African American now resides in the White House, yet our country remains as racially divided as ever. I have gone from a somewhat shy, unsure, recently turned 18 year old to a mid 30’s husband and dad that loves to play with my kids. I have lived in at least 14 different places, including apartments, dorm rooms, and for a month a friends couch and now I own my own home. I am on my 6th vehicle since that 1983 Nissan King Cab pickup I hauled my stuff to OBU in. I have gone from short hair to kinda long and shaggy hair to spikey hair, to even black hair at one point to now back to really short almost no hair. I have worked many places, had many friends, and been through a lot. However one thing that has remained the same as it was back then is that I have no college degree.
You see I had many up and downs during college, some hardships, some curveballs. But really it was no different than what perhaps many of you faced and overcame. I admittedly did not handle them well at the time. I participated in commencement in the Winter of 2001 knowing I still lacked several courses. I remembered being shocked that my name was on the list of December graduates, but since my sister was graduating the same day I decided to go ahead and be a part of the ceremonies. I went back two years later in 2003 to finish those courses and to complete a second major. Those plans however were derailed after just one semester and well life happened and I never went back to finish my last 6 hours.
To be honest I think I had accepted the fact that I would never finish my college degree. It just seemed like a crazy dream that I would ever be in a position to do so. Now sure there were times I dreamed about it and about even going for my masters and eventually my doctorate. However those always seemed like a nice thought, you know the kind that makes you smile and then you get pulled back into the real world.
Well as I type these words right now I can see my 4 text books for this semester (and WOW have prices gone up in over a decade), I can reach to the side of my desk and pull out my class list and look at it. That is right; through an amazing series of events and blessings I am enrolled in those final 6 hours to finally complete my degree. It does not seem real at times, it may not until my first test (AAAACK that has been awhile!) or till Fall Break or my term papers, or the end of the semester. I am grateful to be going back to finish. It has been a long time and something I need to do.
Well the tests are all taken, the papers all written, I passed all six hours and only one thing remains. Tomorrow morning I will get up, put on a a finely pressed dress shirt, my black suit, recently polished boots, a new green tie, and go to OBU to participate in Winter Commencement. I wrestled with whether or not to walk in graduation again quite a bit. I mean I have no connections to the current students I will be graduating with and I have already done this song and dance once 12 years ago. So why do it again?
I think the biggest thing is that it really means something to me now. As stated above I knew I was not really finished when I “graduated” in 2001. In the decade plus since then I have always felt like something was missing or not complete. I think actually taking part in graduation will give me a sense of finalty and bring a sense of resolve to my college experience.
I have admittedly had a long winding journey to complete my college degree. Would I recommend this track or journey to anyone? No, not really. Do I regret it though? No, and I say that because of the experiences I have had along the way.
So to everyone that has played a part in my College journey, no matter how small or great, I say thank you and ZIP BANG OBU!