I thought of the sight to come: a sea of young people, dressed in regalia and filled with pride and the promise of tomorrow. This day represented the pinnacle of their hard work. Those prospective graduates would soon stand proudly poised to go out into the world and do great things.
I strolled the all-but-empty hallways trying to remember the location of the ladies room. Soon the familiar door presented itself, and I entered, coming face to face with a woman who flashed a smile and proceeded to don a graduation gown. Though she carried herself with a youthful exuberance, the faint lines on her face revealed that she was older than the average college graduate. I caught her eye in the mirror as she carefully practiced wearing the mortarboard; soon she began to recount the events that had brought her to this day.
The story went by in a flash. Her family was not one of financial means. Neither of her parents went to college, and it wasn’t a pursuit that was expected of her. As she zipped up her gown, she recalled dropping out of high school and working in a factory before finally enrolling in college – paying her own way.
But after 3 ½ years of part-time work and full-time study, she needed a break and took a semester off. One semester turned into another … and another. Then jobs and bills came, then marriage and a mortgage. In the ensuing years, she never let go of the dream to someday finish what she’d started. After some years away from the classroom, an inquiry with a college advisor revealed her prized goal was within reach. She set in course a plan of action.
And, now, here she stood in her cap and gown, having celebrated a milestone birthday only months earlier. The fulfillment of her hard work had finally come to fruition. As she draped the silver honors stole around her neck, her sense of pride seemed palpable; tears welled in my eyes as a wave of emotion washed over me.
As our brief encounter in that tucked-away ladies room drew to a close, I marveled at her strength and determination. “You should be very proud of yourself,” I said, looking at the reflection in the mirror.
Giving a last glance at the face staring back at me, I adjusted my cap, straightened my shoulders, flashed a knowing smile and said to myself, “Yes, you should be very proud.”
Do you have a dream? Are you working toward achieving a lifelong goal? How's it going and what obstacles have you faced? Please share your story in the Comments.
P.S. I fulfilled my goal on May 7, 2011, but I'm still on cloud nine over my accomplishment. To all of those joining the ranks and graduating this spring, I congratulate you on your achievement and wish you all the best for the future.