This is the end! I once was told a story of how in an educator’s world, May signifies the end of the year, and August the beginning. It makes for a continual cycle of hope, anticipation, and celebration and I love it!
This month is a time to celebrate and say goodbye to our graduating students. It’s time for parents to weep when their toddler completes daycare and moves to school in the Fall. Or we weep again at watching our teenager complete high school and symbolically wrap up their childhood. We watch our friends and loved ones graduate with a degree and witness the joy on their faces as they had overcome a number of obstacles to earn that diploma. It’s time to celebrate the culmination of efforts of the many and the sacrifices made by themselves and their support systems to reach this point. Finally, it is a time to welcome the summer and celebrate the end for many students.
There’s many students graduating in our community and area that makes May a tremendous season of hope, joy, and a celebration of a brighter future. This month I’m celebrating each of our graduates but one in particular stands out to me. A woman, who decided to attend the UC to turn her life around from her past life path that was full of destruction and negativity, will be graduating with a graduate degree in Counseling/Psychology this May.
I learned quickly about her story when I first started working here that she decided to stop the path that she was on and instead of giving her life up to drugs, crime, and poverty she was choosing to go back and study to help others get out of their own addiction and developing coping mechanisms to deal with life and to secure a better future for herself and family. She quickly excelled and stood out as she voraciously attacked her coursework and soon found herself accumulating the hours she needed for a degree.
Her higher education path was not full of rainbows and sunshine, she ran into employment issues as she tried to clear background checks. Opportunity after opportunity was closed to her as her background precluded her from gainful employment. Her hope and heart faltered a few times as opportunities seemed to pass her by and she wondered if her past would even allow her a chance at a future. But as time continued, she never gave up, she soon graduated with her bachelor’s degree. She was undeterred and was committed to more, as she knew a graduate degree would open even more opportunities. Today, after countless hurdles, roadblocks and challenges, she’s walking this month with her master’s degree. I am happy to report she has found full time employment in Ponca City as she aids those who find themselves in a familiar setting she once did several years ago.
This is one reason why I celebrate graduation. Stories like these happen each semester at the University Center. We’re thankful for the opportunity to help students earn a degree and become gainfully employed. I hope you can take a moment to reach out and celebrate a recent graduate in our community!