Senior Moments

By BARBARA KOLB

“If you had a degree, would it change you?”

This question was posed by a child actor in an online pop-up ad distributed by Ashford University.
My answer to that question: “Most definitely. Earning a degree has changed me.”

Five years ago my quest for a college degree began with an interview with Dean Flowers, the associate dean for Waukesha County Technical College’s graphic design department. In order to be accepted into the program, I had to present a portfolio that highlighted my artistic talent.

With a modicum of embarrassment, because I had no formal art training, I took a deep breath and revealed to him the scrapbook I had created for my family’s Caribbean cruise memories. I sighed with relief when he said he was impressed by it. Subsequently, I enrolled in the program in the fall of 2008.

Today, I have a professional portfolio showcasing real-world graphic design from my work on Arches, the Elm Grove Times-Independent newspaper, Habitat for Humanity, BMA Young Professionals and other classroom projects. My pilgrimage towards this coveted degree has converted a fun, creative hobby into a fun, viable career.

But more importantly, the earning of my about-to-be-real degree has also changed how I view myself. I’m still me — a 51-year-old, somewhat confident, overweight woman with a slightly lead foot who gets a kick out of a good laugh with a good friend. But I’m also a professional graphic designer and writer. And even more than that, I’m a persistent woman who did not give up on her 30-year-old dream to graduate from college.

My academic sojourn has birthed an inner confidence that radiates joy and peace from my very core. And I guarantee my inner joy will break out in a dance when I cross the stage and receive my diploma on May 18.

Fortunately, I’m not the only person on campus who will be dancing across that graduation stage in celebration of earning a degree.

We each have personal stories that highlight the walking, running, crawling, slipping or sliding we’ve experienced on this winding academic road to complete our degrees.

So what is your answer: “If you had a degree, would it change you?”

Email your answer to me at kolbb@mtmary.edu.

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