Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Fellow Graduates...

Who’da thunk it? On April 30, I graduated from the Manitoba Municipal Administrator’s certificate program through the University of Manitoba and can now put the initials CMMA behind my name. The last time I graduated from anything was high school, about 147 years ago. Some things have changed, and some remain the same since that day. 

Difference: Back then, we wore caps and gowns. For this grad, only corsages distinguished us and I’m quite all right with that. It gave me a chance to wear a pretty dress and actually have it seen.

Similarity: Both times, I needlessly worried I’d trip going up to receive my diploma. 

Difference: Back then, falling would have been mortifying. This time, it would have only provided more fodder for this column.

Similarity: For the group picture, the tall people stood in the back. I am still one of the tall people.

Difference: My CMMA certificate says “with distinction” on it. How about that, eh? In high school, I was an average student. The grades I’ve earned as an adult make me wonder if I’d have done much better as a teenager if only those dang boys had not been such a distraction. Speaking of boys…

Similarity: I had the same date for both grads. Somewhere, there’s a picture of Jon and me together on that day back in 1977. But after 35 years of marriage, his congratulatory hug, his pride in me, and his presence hold far deeper significance. Besides his being both a witness to my struggles and a personal coach through these particular courses, the rivers that have passed under our life bridge make his support infinitely more precious now.

Difference: Back in 1977, I graduated from a small, residential Christian high school in South Dakota. Prom night didn’t exist, since dancing was frowned upon. We settled for a heavily-decorated banquet, followed by sitting and listening to a guest speaker and then sitting some more while listening to a musical performance. There was no need for “Safe Grad” arrangements or designated drivers, either.
At my 2013 grad, our banquet was followed by a dance and cash bar. I abstained from the bar’s offerings, thank you, but found dancing a far superior way to follow too much food.

Similarity: A sense of significant accomplishment permeated both events. It’s easy to think that continuing education courses, taken at the rate of one or two per year, mean nothing compared to being a full-time student. But high school students are not generally required to put food on the table, care for children, or make mortgage payments throughout their studies like most adult students do. It’s not “nothing.” Both achievements are worthy of celebration.

And so, to the Class of 2013, be it high school, a university degree, or a certificate program like mine, I say Congratulations! Enjoy your big day for all it is worth and don’t ever stop learning, for there will always be more to learn. The third verse of John W. Peterson’s hymn called “The Student’s Prayer” sums it up nicely:

“May the things we learn, so meager, never lift our hearts in pride
 ‘Til in foolish self-reliance we would wander from Thy side.
Let them only bind us closer, Lord, to Thee, in whom we find
Very fountainhead of wisdom, Light and life of all mankind.”

P.S. Congratulations to Lillian, who won last week’s draw for a free book.