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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Real graduations and a virtual one

Friday, June 8, 2012

We attended three graduations for grandchildren this year, all at different levels of education. So far the graduations of this generation of Roder offspring have been nicely spaced. We have not had more than one high school graduation a year. That will change when the three we have in fourth grade now break out at the same time.

The age spread of our grands is wide. We have three out of college but we also have seven who have not yet begun grade school. We have already told the parents of our two youngest that we will not be going to their college graduations. We will be past our hundredth birthdays by a year or two when they finish high school . Our parents lived to ripe old ages and were quite active into their 90's so we are hoping we can do even better.

Today's graduates are much better prepared for choosing careers than we were fifty plus years ago. We had no guidance counselors and just floundered out into the big world hoping we would find the right place to work. I really would have liked to go to college but didn't tell my parents because I thought they couldn't afford to send me. We were given no information about scholarships that could be earned.

I suppose when I was five or six years of age people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. But when I was seventeen and it was important to think about that, no one did. The closest anyone came to that was the day our high school principal came up to me as I was studying notices on a bulletin board. We were to graduate that month. She asked if I would like to study to be a teacher. I thought she wanted me to go to the convent like my older sister and I was thinking more in terms of the vocation of marriage and raising a family. With that in mind, I told her I didn't want to be a teacher. Then, to my amazement, she said, "Then I'll give the scholarship to Briar Cliff College to the next in line in grade-point average."

First of all, I didn't know I had the highest grade point average in our class and, secondly, I didn't know there was a scholarship available. Maybe I would have told her no even if I had known those facts. I thought Briar Cliff was a "teacher's college" and that if you went there that had to be your career. Having the highest grade point in the class did not evidently mean I was smart about everything.

I figured out much later that my parents were not poor. They were simply doing what all parents who were affected by the depression did. They reused, recycled, handed down and were careful spenders. We didn't take family vacations like some of our city-living cousins did but it wasn't from a lack of money but because there were daily chores that tied us down. Our vacations were taking turns with our siblings to spend a few days here and there with grandparents or cousins.

My eighth grade graduation gift from my parents was a bus ticket to go to Denver with my oldest sister to visit an aunt and uncle and their family. It was a huge surprise and the only really big trip I ever took until after I was out of high school. But I would have given it up for a high school graduation gift of being allowed to attend college.

I did go to a technical school for nine months to learn some business skills. I began work as a secretary in a law office the day after I graduated. I look back on all of this now and find it ironic that the classmate who went to Briar Cliff College in my place ended up being a legal secretary, too. I just got a head start on working. It took her three more years before she could enter the workforce.

I admit that as I attended the college graduation for our Amanda this year, I imagined myself walking with the students processing behind the banner that signified they were receiving a degree in communication and the arts. I have a very vivid imagination so I also allowed myself to be one of those graduating with honors.

By Mary S. Roder
Musing With Mary


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