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Commencement Eve

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.


And the winner is…

Apparently, no one.  Or perhaps lots of people.  Winning a big lottery jackpot is a dream to many.  Some have their dreams come true, and others do not.  As there was no winner for tonight’s Powerball drawing, the jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is now over $1 billion.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Even if multiple people were to win that jackpot, consider this:  other than now having a new-found financial freedom, what else do they have?  Is it truly going to bring them happiness?  Or will it bring lots of so called “friends” out of the woodwork, all looking for a handout?  In this latter respect, I’d say the people who bought tickets and didn’t win a big monetary payout may actually be the winners.  Now they don’t have to avoid people who just want to mooch off them.  Winning big would definitely be helpful to those experiencing financial problems, but statistically those people tend to go through their winnings far faster than those who win smaller jackpots.

So you are probably wondering if I played.  Yes, I did.  I did not get a single number, but that’s fine.  Should I ever win a large sum (and I rarely play as I rarely ever carry cash), I have an idea of how I’d handle things.  The first thing is to retain a good lawyer in order to keep my identity private.  Next, a fantastic financial adviser.  After that: pay off all debt, invest, find my plot of land in the mountains and build my log home, buy a home for my best friend, pay off debts of those near and dear to me, set up college funds for my friends’ children/grandchildren, donate to those in need, travel… Of course, what actually would get accomplished would depend on the amount of the winnings.  In all honesty if I could win enough to pay off my debt, buy a new vehicle, and secure a home, I’d be happy.

Back to reality.  The spring semester begins Monday.  Where the hell did the time go?  I feel like I just ended fall finals!  The psych department will be in our new building!  I’m incredibly happy about this (as is everyone else).  Majors were sent an email earlier today stating that they will open the building for a couple hours tomorrow for anyone who wants to look around and get acquainted with the layout.  It sounds as if it’s going to be really great between specialty rooms, two computer labs (with access via student ID instead of punching in a code!), weekend access with ID, lounge… I’m going to try to head down to take a look, and determine which area will be my best bet for parking.  I also need to figure out what time I need to set my alarm so I’m not late for the first day of classes.  I probably should have gotten back in the habit of waking up earlier this past week.  Too late now.

My class load is going to be “heavy” even though it’s still only two classes.  Difference is that I’m carrying 7 credits instead of 6, one class has a lab, and I’ll be on campus Monday through Friday.  I’m finally moving into Advanced Stats, and my second class (with lab) is Research Methods.  Not exactly simple classes, but I feel confident I can pass them both.  I will have Dr. McBride again for stats, but I’m not familiar with my instructor for methods.

As I’m sitting here listening to the rain fall, I realize it’s starting to lull me to sleep.  So, I think it’s a good time to stop, go snuggle under the covers with my kitties, and get some sleep.



It's not what you are eating, it's what's eating you...