Senior’s college experience teaches lessons not in the books

Commentary

When I attended the press conference that President Scanlon held Friday afternoon about his retirement, I realized two things.

First, I had never personally met him before, but almost immediately I knew he is one of the good guys. He honestly cares about people.

Second, as he explained, with evident emotion on his face and in his voice, the process he went through to arrive at his decision to retire, I realized that it is okay to have mixed emotions when changes occur in our lives.

As I’ve been preparing for my graduation this May – my current life change – I also have had mixed emotions.

On the one hand, I really, really want to sleep eight hours a night, just to see what if feels like.

But also at fleeting times my heart aches and I feel little twangs of fear at the thought of leaving my academia bubble to head out into the real world.

Now, I’m no stranger to the workforce.

I was employed for 20 years in different positions ranging from corporate departmental supervisor to legal secretary to a sheet metal worker. And I didn’t like it. The question becomes, was it me or them?

I now know that it was probably a little of both.

My hope is that with all that I have learned about tolerance and open-mindedness from my professors, I will be able to deal with, shall we say, the self-centered people out there.

And speaking of professors, I want to say that many of mine have made all the difference in my life. Before I came to college – well, never mind.

Let’s just say I’m a completely different person now. Family and friends tell me how proud they are of me.

But I know that without the patience and tolerance of my professors, as they helped show me the world is not black and white, I would not have changed.

As for my newfound friends here at Western – most of them half my age – you have taught this old dog new tricks. And, no, I don’t mean drinking games. I mean that you have always treated me as an equal, as though our age difference made no difference. That has given me more confidence in myself than you will ever know.

I didn’t attend college when I was younger, despite my dad’s pleas with me to do so. But it didn’t seem logical because no one in my family had graduated from high school besides me, much less college. I guess somebody has to be the first — I have no regrets.

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