Engaged in a good book I hardly noticed the plane touch down with its familiar lurch. The cabin lights came on and passengers began to shuffle about each other unloading the overhead compartments and dispersing to their various destinations. Stuffing my book in my backpack my mind began to wander over the myriad tasks, duties and responsibilities I would have to address in the next few days.
This mental process of “gearing up” is a normal thing for me. I like to expect the best but prepare for the worst. I knew after five days away from work I would have a little of the worst to deal with. But in that brief mental process there was a small sense of loss—quickly followed by an even deeper sense of fulfillment.
I’m sure I frowned (my wife says I do when I’m churning something in my head) thinking of the loss in my schedule. There were no more assignments to do. No more textbooks to read. No papers to write. None. It still has a surreal sound to it. But there it is. The gratification came as I recalled my good fortune—that I was returning from a trip to State College where I had the privilege to walk at graduation.
It is really difficult to put into words—that I feel grateful to one of the finest institutions of higher learning on earth—that at the age of thirty nine I feel the depth of learning I was able to obtain—that I now am officially an alumni—a graduate. Throughout life I have always enjoyed both learning and a challenge—Penn State is both. But even more, my now alma mater, has awakened an insatiable desire for more of both.
I will move forward now as I have always done. This time it will be different however. I will do so with the power that comes from added learning. I will be aided by the strength of thousands of alumni that have gone before me and pushed by the thousands yet to come. I will better see the bigger picture and have greater focus on the present.
In the days ahead I will engage in a job hunt. My resume will show that I have a wealth of experience. It will also now show that Pennsylvania State University believes in me. It’s not the kind of credit that comes ill gotten, varnished or unappreciated. It’s the kind that must be earned, fought for and ultimately deserved.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give due credit to my wife and children who willingly and lovingly supported me—even during finals weeks. Many thanks are due to my parents who have always urged me to reach higher. And thank you to my instructors and advisers for challenging me, teaching me and nudging me when needed.
For those of you who are close to graduation—finish strong, the ultimate reward awaits you. For those of you who have a long way to go, never give up—remember life is a marathon not a sprint. For those of you considering beginning, what are you waiting for—carpe diem already.
“Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
~ Johann Woflgang von Goethe