Sunday, May 15, 2005

Graduation

Last Friday afternoon I drove home from my payroll training in Houston. Thirty minutes after my arrival Carol and I were back on the road driving to the Austin area. It was a long day.

Saturday afternoon my son-in-law Tom (husband of Elizabeth—my younger daughter) received his BA degree in Computer Science from Texas State University in San Marcos.

It was a proud moment for all of us, and especially for Tom. He is the first in his family (as far as he knows) to have completed 4 years of college. In fact, his own family was less than supportive of his efforts. That’s a long story, and probably best left private.

Tom had to overcome a less-than-adequate primary and secondary education, the above-mentioned lack of support (emotional or otherwise) from his family, a lack of funds, a series of moves and sea-duty assignments in the Navy that made taking classes difficult or impossible, and other challenges to complete his degree program.

One of those other challenges involved taking remedial classes in fundamentals just to qualify for entry into the college program. He was not lacking in IQ or desire, but he’d never learned good study habits.

As in most cases, perseverance prevailed over all the difficulties. You gotta admire someone who sees his goals through to completion in the face of adversity.

I toasted Tom at the celebration dinner and party Saturday night. The topic of my little speech was pride. Not self-pride, as in being stuck-up, but the pride you feel in someone else when they do well.

Did I mention that he graduated with honors? This from a guy who needed help completing the remedial classes to get into college!

Yeah, I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my two daughters for persevering and completing their BA degrees. Some of their friends have likewise achieved goals they’ve set. All of that helps to offset the stories you hear about people with lots of potential who fail to make any effort and end up on the wrong side of the law, or otherwise down and out.

How often is it that just one offer of support, one bit of good advice, one expression of confidence can make the difference and push someone over the edge to determine to improve and be better?

I don’t know the answer. But it sure feels good to see someone overcome adversity and succeed. Kinda makes it worth the effort to offer those things, doesn’t it?

3 comments:

Michelle said...

Congratulations Tom - that is a mighty achievement.

Duke - I agree with you on the support and motivation question. I came up with an idea 5 years ago on what I thought was a brilliant idea for my own company. I chatted to my friend and she told me it would never work. A month later there was a feature in one of our magazines of someone who did exactly what I wanted to do and were already a success. My friend turned to me and said "see, someone else is already doing it". My answer was that competition is good. And now? There are about over 100 other people doing exactly what I wanted and all making money but because I did not have support and encouragement, I thought it would be a failure and gave up before I even started. I learnt a valuable lesson - strive for what you believe in, against all odds, and despite whether others do not have the same dreams, ideals or ambitions.

Welcome back - you were definitely missed.

Sally said...

Wow - this is a subject that I've been thinking on for quite some time. Motivation from others (even one other person) is a powerful incentive to strive and meet our goals. Good for Tom; good for your family backing him. He's a lucky guy to have support from all of you.

Karyn Lyndon said...

Yes! Awesome news on your son-in-laws accomplishments. (Would you please come influence and motivate my kids?) My daughter (25) got her three-year degree in Sorority at Sam Houston and now teaches dance (as in ballet, not pole). My son (20) graduated from "alternative" high school and is now in part-time "floor maintentance" at Wal-Mart while pursuing a "career" in Xtreme stunt biking (no insurance). While neither actually classify as "down and out" nor are in prison, they... (let's see, how to put this nicely) ...have yet to reach their potential.
I'm hoping they marry well.

BTW...welcome back.