Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A graduation story

This column originally appeared in Capital Business on May 30.

It’s graduation season, which explains why I found myself in the stands of the auditorium at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore County campus recently watching a parade of caps and gowns happily clutching their real or faux diplomas.

Graduations can be inspirational stuff, and this one was no different.

One candidate for a master’s degree had to overcome serious affliction to claim her parchment.

Another got hers at the ripe young age of 70.

A third crammed his work into 18 months to get it all paid by the GI Bill, all the while holding down a full-time job and adjusting to life with an infant son.

Then there was one woman who spent eight on-and-off years working toward hers.

She too had a full-time job.

With two kids to raise, and an husband who kept long and unpredictable hours.

She found her education interrupted not once, but twice, by unexpected trips to the hospital. And her pursuit of a degree in Instructional Systems Development represented a shift in career plans from her days as an undergraduate.

But she persevered.

I know a bit about her because she is my wife, Valerie.

The example she set made it difficult for me to slack off in my own work. But more than that, watching her absorb knowledge and then apply it at home or on the job taught me just how magical an educational journey can be.

I seem to know a lot of women like that. My own mother did not get her bachelor’s until after she had given birth to four boys. She steadfastly kept after it until she realized her goal of becoming a teacher.

My mom is like that. She could barely run a lap around the track when I was in high school and ended up a marathoner and triathlete, racing in competitions up and down the East Coast.

It helps to be passionate about what you are doing, as serial entrepreneur Renee Lewis reminds in her interview this week with staff writer Steven Overly.

“Without passion, perseverance is hard to find, and perseverance is key to success.”

There’s a lot a business person can learn from advice like that.

1 comment:

Linda Chion Kenney said...

What a nice tribute, to a moment that matters most in life, and the people who took the journey with you.