I spent a lovely day on the Central Washington University campus today with my lovely niece, Virginia. It was so wonderful seeing the campus all spruced up and ready for the new crop of students (classes begin next week) but it was also wonderful walking around my alma mater more than a decade after graduation.
The trip came about because Virginia needed to pick up her parking permit and books for the start of her sophomore year, and she wanted me to join her as she walked to each of her classrooms so that she knew just where she needed to be for each of her classes. Of course, it also meant that I got the chance to spend a few hours with my eldest niece (who is also my goddaughter) so I really couldn’t turn down the offer!
I was amazed at how much the campus has grown since I graduated. There’s a new student union building and several new academic buildings, as well as new student dorms. But the old buildings are still there – as are the Japanese Gardens which I got to introduce Virginia to. She’d walked by the walled-in garden during her freshman year, but had never actually entered the little oasis. I think she might have been impressed and I hope she takes the opportunity for some quiet reflection time in the garden when she’s studying.
I also took the opportunity to pass on a bit of wisdom about the things I missed out on when I was an undergraduate student. I don’t know if she’ll act on my words, but she seemed eager to listen, as she still seems to look up to me. It humbles me that this beautiful 19-year-old looks to me as someone to emulate; as a role model. (And one day, others will look at her in the same way.)
It’s been 10 years since I graduated from CWU at the age of 29, after beginning my studies a month before my 25th birthday. And now, at the age of 39, I am finally preparing myself for what might be my last academic degree – my PhD. Some folks said I couldn’t do it because of my dyslexia, but I have proved them all wrong.
Today reminded me of that and has reminded me that with so many more nieces and nephews coming up behind Virginia, I have to keep at it because I have to prove to each and every one of them that you can do what you set your mind to do!
So, here’s to Central and the awesomeness of education!