It Is Worth the Trouble: depending on how you measure it.

The first time I graduated I didn’t “walk”. I took my last final on a Friday and on Saturday morning I moved 5 states away. I stayed away for seven years. I was jaded and disgruntled and just wanted to get out and to be done. I wasn’t sure my degree was “worth it”.fromthestage

The second time I graduated I sat through two ceremonies, walked in one,  and I milked everything I could out of all of it. I wanted more. I loved it.IMG_9247

Now I have the opportunity to sit up on stage at graduation ceremonies every year and it gives me a moment to pause and reflect at the differences between my first and second ceremonies. Or rather, compare my attitude relating to the two educational experiences.

What I have learned from this reflection is at the heart of why I do my job.IMG_4375

What I learned is that I did it all wrong the first time. The worst part is that I didn’t know I had done it wrong till I did it the second time.

I had done it all wrong and because of that I didn’t think it had been worth it. I worked hard, and scrimped and scratched to pay for it, and I needed a degree to get a job, and sure I learned some stuff in there and I definitely needed a job, but in the end I felt spent and it was almost as if any real lessons I had learned were in spite of, rather than because of, school.IMG_7487

Then, thinking I was only pursuing career advancement in a trade school sort of way, I went to school again and it was as if fireworks, a choir of angels, and all the possible light bulbs surrounded me in glittering explosions of song and light.

I was risking more, spending ten times more, and it was the most wonderfully indulgent experience imaginable.

And because of it, I am happier every day after, than I was any day before.procession

That happiness is how I measure worth.

Education is worth it… when you do it right.

School is worth it.

Worth, all of it.

That is why I love my job. There are things about my job that are hard, that are drudgery, that frustrate me to no end, but I love it because I can feign some wisdom from what I have learned along the way and I can help others know how to do it right the first time.

You can do it right the first time.

Happy graduation season everyone!

Graduation at Redlands: buncha bulldogs

Commencement ceremonies are a bit different when you are sitting on the stage. You are expected to behave.

IMG_4271Graduations are inherently good. Goals accomplished and progress made toward dreams, or jobs, or student loan repayment plans.IMG_4374

I like the stories of grown up graduates. The ones who came back to clean up unfinished business. The ones who went to class at night, went to a job in the day, and care for their kids in between. Those kinds of grads make me happy.IMG_4358

It pleases me to be in a position to watch this happen on a regular basis. I get a front row seat to second chances. Beats living in a van that’s for sure.IMG_4368








Och Tamale!


William Peace University: Peace College

Those prone to puns would begin here with some description of the downtown Raleigh campus and its lack of jarring noises and troubles. But I won’t do that (wink wink).peace sign

Perhaps the peaceful days are over anyhow as this women’s college founded in 1857, has just begun admitting men.

rocking chair

Perhaps, but not just yet.


The school is small, 700 students give or take a couple. My high school wasn’t much bigger. They offer just 10 majors. But as I watched the Sr. class prepare for the graduation ceremony it was obvious that they loved this place. When I graduated I was loving the idea of being done, these kids, these young women, and a couple of young men, looked as if they loved this place.library

And I have learned that loving your school matters. You can learn almost anywhere. MOOCs are all the educational rage these days but while walking around this leafy campus watching kids under a giant white canopy prepare to graduate, I could tell there was a little bit extra something other than “school” going on here.wearing sashes

Sometimes a little extra something is worth it.

When Everything Else Comes Alive, the School Year Dies

My time at school is very likely limited. Graduation is in May and my job hunt is in full swing. Perhaps the school will hire me in some capacity, perhaps they will not.

The trees and kids on campus are blooming. The sidewalks and lawns are loud, socks have disappeared, and I still have approximately 100 pages to write, and possibly 700 pages to read. The reading will go easy enough, the writing not so much.

On the same day I got the news I passed my comprehensive exam, I crashed my car. No injuries other than my celebratory mood, and my bank account. As the term winds down and graduation, a happy thing, draws near, the pixie dust is being blown off this whole place. School is not free and as I work to keep my grades where I need them to be, job applications and cover letters compete for mind share and time.

I have done this once before; graduated from college and applied for jobs, but then I was younger. I still have dreams. The failure of my dreams to die is why I came back for another degree. They say hope springs eternal, but every spring gets scorched by summer and then frozen by winter. I have not reached my winter years or even my autumn, but my flowers have grown into leaves. I am looking for fruit.

My wife emails me job postings every day. This one is in Hawaii, or that one is right up your alley. I apply, or I don’t, and that 100 pages I have to write isn’t yet 99.

But as I said, I have been here before. It didn’t go so well the first time and I am still alive. Really, in light of my dreams and aspirations, it went horribly, and here I am now. I look up from the job postings and see blossoms and blue skies. I look back down to my books and love what I read. I look at my life right now, not tomorrow, not yesterday, but now, and it is good. It is better than good but I temper my enthusiasm to keep on task.

I love my now. I do not intend to miss it.