The Diploma (achieving a goal)
PROLOG (SkyWriting.Net editor): The title of this story (The Diploma)
doesn't do it justice, in my opinion. Achieving a goal is much more
difficult for some than others. Try to put yourself in this persons
shoes, for the goals you have gone after, and the struggles you have
endured in your own life to achieve a goal. Enjoy . . .
I was exhausted from working my two jobs over the weekend
and was not looking forward to the graduation ceremony. I
have been to many graduation ceremonies and I know how boring
they are for most people. To top everything off, my wife and
I had our two kids under the age of three with us. Both of
my kids were squirming and whining, and I knew it was going
to be a long afternoon. Our sole comedic relief came when
Caleb, my three year old patted, and rubbed the head of a
bald man we did not know in front of us. But as the ceremony
dragged on I kept thinking of all the places I would rather
be, and made up my mind that I wasn't going to enjoy myself....
It was your ordinary graduation ceremony. A hot, sweaty
auditorium filled with people fanning themselves with their
programs, speech upon boring speech, and the endless calling
of names as each matriculator walked across the stage to grab
this piece of paper that symbolized their academic
accomplishment. It was getting harder and harder to pay
attention. Just as my attitude started to go sour, they
began calling out the graduate's names. The classmates formed
a single file line and made their way up towards the podium.
That's when I caught my first close-up glimpse of Kim.
She looked up at us and was trying in vain to hold back the
tears. She was not doing a good job of it. Believe me,
holding back emotions is not something that Kim does very
well. There she was, standing in line, about to receive
her diploma, and she was probably thinking about a number
of things. Maybe her Dad who passed away a few years ago
and didn't get to see her reach her goal, or her grandmother,
who also passed away recently, and who had always wanted to
attend college but her family didn't have the money....
For me it was like something from a movie. You know,
the dramatic slow motion scene where all the crowd noise
grows quiet, and the camera slowly moves up on her face
as the tears begin to fall. She was a good distance
away from us, but to me it was as if she was standing in
front of me. That simple act of looking up at those loved
ones who had come to watch her graduate, and gently rubbing
the tears of joy, accomplishment, and pride out of her eyes
really got through to me. The selfishness in me melted
away and I realized why I was there and not somewhere else.
"KIMBERLY ANNE CONWAY, GRADUATING MAGNA CUM LAUDE" came
booming over the auditoriums sound system and she walked
gracefully across the huge stage and received this piece
of paper that symbolized so many things to her. Then
just before she walked off the stage, she turned around
towards those who had come to share the day with her, and
with the brightest smile on her face, waved and grinned
at us like a little girl getting on the school bus for
the first time....
I glanced at my wife, and saw the salty drops roll gently
down as the love she had for her sister manifested itself on her
You see, Kim is not your ordinary college graduate. She is
38 years old, and has stuck with her goal of graduating from
college for the past twenty years. It's not like she is
going to look back on that part of her life, sigh, and say,
"College.... the best twenty years of my life!"
She attended college while working full time, and she
studied extremely hard, especially the past couple of years
as she pushed toward her goal of a college degree. Many
times she felt like quitting, and if it wasn't for her
support group of other nontraditional students that cared
for her, she would have given up on her goal. Many times
she would call one of the other students she knew and tell
them she wanted to quit, and would be talked out of it.
Then a while later this student would call her and say she
wanted to quit and Kim would talk her out of it....
(Luckily, they both didn't want to quit at the same time!)
I have the utmost respect for Kim. It takes a special
person to stick with a goal as long as she has. I attended
college for three years when I got out of high school, but
I stopped when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life.
Many times I have looked back and wished that I had stuck
with it and went on to be a high school teacher. But if
for no other reason, I wish I had finished something that
I had started.
I know what it feels like to walk out of that last final
exam of the semester, breathe in the fresh air just outside
the doors of the university, and feel like the weight of
the world has been lifted off your shoulders for
at least a little while. I can't even begin to imagine
what it felt like for Kim after so many years....
I love you, Kim, and I want you to know that I admire you
for that symbolic piece of paper that will soon adorn a
wall in your house.
In the words of Caleb, my three year old:
"HAPPY 'GRADULATION AUNT KIMMY!"
Copyright © 1999 by Michael T. Powers
[ by: Michael T. Powers Copyright © 1999 (HeartTouchers@aol.com) -- submitted by: Michael T. Powers ]
All Rights Reserved.