The first of the year was weeks ago, February 14th has come and gone, as has the 50 percent off chocolate thereafter (though I WAS lucky enough to score some) and now, just short of a week later, there are numbers swimming through my brain…yesterday was the 19th, and marks precisely one year since I have been struggling to keep us afloat, working a number of jobs, right after several years of pay cuts, supporting 4 of us, and all of the many number of things and expenses that go along with that number and contain their own numbers.
However, I am struck today by another very significant number, with that number being 20. Today IS the 20th and though we only became aware of its significance about 8 months ago, our daughter will graduate from college on May 20th…a mere 90 days from now…3 short months. It seems like we were just looking at colleges while in high school, looking at SAT scores, ACT scores, tuitions, loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, and more numbers. And now, the numbers are back…numbers of grad school responses…7…still to hear from…7…costs, offers, financials, scores, employment outcomes, and, of course, tuitions, loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, numbers. It’s amazing to me though, that her knowledge is numerically oodles higher than the four years of knowledge she has now experienced. The conversations vary greatly from a mere 4 years ago, when she was only 4 years younger, but 140 plus credits ago, 2 fabulous internships ago, 2 TA experiences, multiple extracurriculars, grant writing experiences, classes, papers, living accommodations, close friends, roommates, and professors and instructors TOO numerous to mention.
We wonder, when we agree upon attending a college and committing, whether or not we’ve made the right decision; whether we will stay, whether we will be successful there, gain the intended knowledge, be employable or successful in pursuing an even higher level of education, but more so, whether we will be supported in our endeavors, have mentors to help us along the way, as well as people to be our second family.
Many of you know from my previous blogs that my daughter has attended school 4.5 hours south of where we live, and though it could’ve been, and was very much almost 6 hours north of here, we went with the most logical choice, rather than her most desired choice. We know now, how amazing a decision that ended up being for sooo many reasons… And we can’t say enough about it. True, there was a cultural adjustment for my bagel girl in the land of biscuits and gravy, and a period of needed acceptance to commit to her choice, but that came with time, commitment, and a little help from those around her. Not only did she watch many of her class leave, fail out, transfer, lose their honors status, lose their scholarships, and make poor choices, but she gained some amazing relationships with those she might never meet otherwise, including someone from another southern school that she met abroad. She worked in the state attorney’s office, the office of the mayor, the local high school and middle school empowering students with limited English skills, after acquiring her own grants, and teaching them to publish their writing. She has held offices, sat on boards, choreographed for dance ensemble, has partaken in numerous brunches, lunches, teas, seminars, conversations, tutoring sessions, tours, convocations, awards ceremonies, an honors thesis, and so much more. She has been supported every step of the way, and by some of the most amazing people to have been there for her. Dr. Kathleen Bands, who returned to teaching from administration, helped my daughter to create a leadership minor, exposed her to a position as a TA, not once, but twice, taught her about style, professionalism, and leadership, and has kept her supplied in post-its throughout her academic career. Dr. Donna Bertazoni, her academic advisor, professor for several of her classes, and department guru, who has advised her but has also heard her and accepted her choices. Dr. Bean, who came into her world later than the others, but who has been there for her grad school preparation to the utmost degree, pushing her to put herself out there and go confidently. Her English literature professor, Dr. Heather Mitchell-Buck, and all time research guru, that got her (finally…thank goodness) to England for the most amazing research, that she is STILL talking about on a daily basis. And, finally, Dean Olivia White, who I was smitten by as soon as we met her at accepted honors students weekend…with her fabulous smile, warm demeanor, caring heart, ability to remember anyone’s name, great knowledge of local restaurants, and amazing ability to motivate anyone who walks anywhere near her path; She has treated my daughter like family, heard her, motivated her to take action, and to always do it professionally, with a smile, a thank you, eloquence, and a warmth like nobody’s business. There have been a NUMBER of others along the way, but these women are a (mother’s) dream come true. It would not be fair, to not mention Melanie from the Dean’s office as well…another extraordinary connection.
I know that these fabulous people have been brought into her life for a reason, and that they will continue to watch over her in the number of days left, and from afar, as she continues on her journey. I know, too, that she is aware how blessed she’s been. And though the number of days rush by, she will count these blessings as numerous and know that in the numbers game, she has really scored big.