My father was the first of his family to go to college. He completed 2 years at a junior college then entered the military. Mom graduated high school and worked before meeting Dad and quickly became an Army wife. Growing up, schooling in my house was not central to the discussions in our family. Often moving every 2 or 3 years, my parents – more my mom – excused our mediocre performance to this and the destructive cliché of “boys will be boys.”
The common theme in my early academic travels after school was rushing home with book bag in tow busting through the door slinging the bag into a corner and turning on the TV. Mom would have a snack ready, which would be received thanklessly, and in all earnestness she would ask, “How was your day at school?”
“Fine.” my brother and I would retort as we fought to pick which channel of the 10 we would watch until Dad would come home and we would surrender our dominion of the living room.
Fast forward to high school – senior year. As the weeks turned into months, all of my friends were making plans for college. I didn’t have a clue. After 12 years of mediocrity, in the room of opportunity there weren’t many doors left for me. In a panic, I remember a conversation with my father.
He was sitting in his chair. I said in all shaky confidence, “Dad, I want to go to college.”
He took a drink, turned the TV off, placed his drink on the TV tray where the leftovers of his dinner remained. He cleared his throat then rolled to his left and removed his wallet from his back pocket. He slowly opened it to the center billfold.
“Boy, I don’t have money to throw away on you for college. I’m not a fool. ”
I was stunned.
He continued, “Your not ready for college. You have no idea what you want to do or the discipline to make it happen.”
He went on for about 30 minutes, but I my 17 year old mind had tuned out after that.
I ended up spending 4 years in the Air Force behaving very badly. Spending my money carelessly and coming very close to a dishonorable discharge. Luckily I figured it out, but in all, he was right. I was not ready.
|Chelsea, Darby, London|
Thankfully, early in my life I met a smart, driven women who didn’t see mediocrity in me and demanded growth in our relationship, family, and our careers. Education was and still is the foundation and driving force in our lives. I have taught for 18 years. Between us we have one associate, two bachelors, two masters, one EdS and one EDd. My daughters are all in the top 5% of their class and each have an immense room of opportunity with many many doors waiting for them. Now, two are in college on scholarship and the other on her way.
Nearly 1% of the world’s population holds a terminal degree. That young man in my father’s basement has come a long way. I want to continue my journey in scholarship because that is where I found opportunity, love, family, and myself.