I remember when I first stepped into the hallowed halls of Capilano College a few years ago. It was during orientation. One thing that struck me was the jazz band that was playing in the cafeteria – a quartet. I remember the feeling that I had… that I was in the right place at the right time. I belonged here and I had made the right choice.
I felt just as peaceful and as happy as I did then on graduation night. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. My family was there. My wife who had endured so much that I could study. My son who went through the first five years of his life without a full-time dad. Mom, Dad, my sisters… they were there to see the fulfillment promise that I had made to them so long ago to complete my degree.
I can’t really explain what it was like to walk across the stage, to receive my hood, to shake the hands of one of my instructors and to hear my name in the speakers announcing that I was now part of the convocation. It all happened so fast. But I remember the feeling I had. It was over. It was complete. And I had accomplished what I had set out to do with the help of those who came to see me graduate.
It is not easy for a six year old to express his feelings, but for the first time, my son said he loved me. Not the “I love you because you have chocolate in your hand behind your back”. Not the “I love you because I want to watch TV during the week”. It was the “I love you because you’re my Daddy and you accomplished something and I’m proud of you”. He didn’t say all those words, but I could feel it. I could feel it. And memories of increasing tuition costs disappeared for the rest of the night.
We went to the reception, pigged out on chicken wings, mini spring rolls, smoked salmon and fruity punch. Dean Dangerfield was so kind to visit with my family and thanked them for “lending me to the college for the past four years”. He said, “He has done a lot for the college and is one of our best students”. He spoke to them for a long time and encouraged my son to come here someday. He emphatically agreed. In a twist of fate, just as it was with my first day at the college, there was a jazz band playing in the background. Unlike the first day, I knew exactly what songs I wanted to hear. I made a couple of requests: “The Duke” and “Just Friends”. It was the icing on the cake to end exactly as I had started.
After the extended family had left, the kids put to bed, the house cleaned… I sat with my wife on the couch for a while, staring at the degree that was now encased in the polished mahogany frame. I couldn’t put it down for a long time. That simple piece of paper represents the sacrifice of so many people. It represents effort. It represents the great opportunities and memories that the Capilano School of Business has afforded me. It was my life for almost four years.
And now it’s over.
As we sat there, I started thinking, “Now what?”. It was relatively easy for me, with my new job and all. But in addition to the career that I had started, I was wondering what the next big accomplishment would be? Saving up for a trip? Getting an Master’s Degree? I don’t know.
After four years of “reading the books”, I’m still “searching for answers”.
One thing I have learned from my experience in College is that with enough effort, I can find those answers.