Twenty-seven years ago I graduated high school. Twenty-four years ago I graduated with my Associate’s Degree. Twice I attempted to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in music (at two different schools), and twice I left without finishing the degree.
My classes at University of Mary Washington (UMW) began in early 2008 on the Stafford Campus. I was working towards a degree in business management as my employer at the time provided tuition reimbursement. Unfortunately the last class meeting of my accounting for managers class was also the day my father died. I missed that last day of class, received a small extension for the final, and decided to withdraw from the university. When I decided to return to college in 2013 UMW seemed the most likely choice as I’d attended previously. I contacted the registrar’s office and was advised that I could submit an application for readmission; that I would be entered into the Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) program with any offered major of my choosing.
I remember the day I met with Dr. Steckler (who was chair of the Psychology Department) in order to get approval to declare my major as Psychology. I had been warned by my adviser in the BLS department that her bark was worse than her bite. That made me a little nervous instead of setting me at ease! LOL As it turned out, he was correct, although I was slightly intimidated at first. Trying to explain why I wanted to major in psychology was possibly the most difficult part because the answer of “I want to help people” is just not acceptable. I remember telling her about my desire as I finished high school to enter into music therapy, and my inability to get accepted into the program at my desired university (there weren’t many offering it in 1990, and only two programs in the state of Florida). It made sense to me to continue my desire to find ways to help others by expanding into psychology. Needless to say, she signed my major declaration – and the rest is history.
I’ve had some wonderful professors at UMW. Several of them I’ve taken for more than one class because I was so happy with their teaching style. Dr. McBride was not only my major adviser, but she (miraculously) got me through stats – even though I thought intro would be the death of me for awhile. Although I only took one class with Dr. Steckler, it was possibly one of my favorites while at UMW; it was senior seminar on emerging adulthood. There are two adjuncts whose classes I’ve registered for more than once: Dr. K. Handley and Dr. Thaxter. I had Dr. Handley for Abnormal Psychology and Foundations of Clinical Psychology – both of which really helped me further decide that I want to move forward into a role as a counselor. I had a class with Dr. Thaxter in my final two semesters: Cognitive Neuroscience (which I initially dreaded but did very well in) and Developmental Psychology: Infant and Child.
My summary of my time at UMW would not be complete without mentioning Dr. Hampton. The first class I took with him was (I believe) my second semester: Cognitive Psychology. I can still remember him telling the class that if we were sick to not come to class, that for us it might be a cold, but it would kill him. My final semester I took History of Psychology with him. It’s his final semester as well. He’s retiring. It’s also the last time History of Psychology will be taught at UMW. I don’t know how the faculty, staff, and returning students will manage without Dr. Hampton wandering the halls chatting, telling his stories to students, and the constant supply of M&Ms. I’m actually happy I’m graduating this semester because I know I can’t imagine being in Mercer without him there. I remember seeing him the beginning of the fall 2016 semester and him saying “You haven’t graduated yet?” and me responding that I was graduating in the spring. His response? “Me too.” I’m gonna miss him.
As happy as I am to finally complete my degree I know that tomorrow will be bittersweet as well. My father, who would be so proud of me, is no longer living and his absence is already being felt. My family is unable to come up from Florida. My best friend, Gloria, is unable to come down from Brooklyn. My “daughter”, Ashley, can’t get off work (although she took me out to dinner tonight), and due to illness and work my friend Lezlie and her fiancee are unable to attend. I won’t be alone though. I do have two friends who will be attending, and I’m grateful for that… although I hope they both realize I’m going to be a wreck tomorrow.
UMW is going to live stream the ceremony tomorrow for anyone who would like to watch. The ceremony begins at 9:00a and should be completed by noon. I am rather far back in the order due to BLS being one of the last degrees to be awarded, but I cannot estimate time-wise around what time I will be presented my degree. You can find the link to the live stream on UMW’s homepage, or here.