Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three Years As Mature Student

I felt it appropriate to write a before and post-graduation reflection over the past three years as a mature student at Mount Allison University, in the Fine Arts program, which has been the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.

The challenges and struggles in life that are really worthwhile are always accomplished and overcome I believe, with the support, help and generosity of from others. I am hear to attest to that and to say a huge thank you to all those who helped me along the way, and I would never been able to do it otherwise.

So many highlights of  the Convocation Graduation Ceremony yesterday, but I'd like to share just a few. The anticipation and long wait was all part of the excitement which was the build up of the final moment when our row of very overheated BFA Graduates headed to the stage.

I was completely in the present moment and even forgot that my pantyhose felt like they were hanging and dropping down around my knees! I was trying to listen to my posse of childhood girlfriends hoot and holler, as they promised they would and they did deliver, tears and all!

As I headed over to get hooded  in front of Peter Mansbridge, probably the most trusted Canadian news man ever, is Mount Allison University's Chancellor. Each graduate kneels before the Chancellor, while he shares perhaps words of wisdom or you tell him how honoured you are to meet him, how much he is loved by your mother, or ask what his favourite sandwich is and ask if he has one because you are starved! He has the most beautiful kind eyes. Meeting him was the greatest thrill.

Then I found out I had been given the Catherine MacDonald- Arsenault Memorial Prize, awarded to a graduating mature student who has demonstrated perseverance and determination in the pursuit of his/her Mount Allison Degree. I thought they must have been confusing me with some one else because it was a complete surprize to me. My friends and class mates knew before I did! I was completely verklempt when I walked off the stage and there was my very dear friend Lois ready to take pictures and give me a big hug while giving me a shoulder to blubber on!

Being a mature student has been a struggle and a challenge right up to the very last day. I thought it might get easier, but it didn't, other than I knew I had the strength to jump, go around, through or over each hurdle ahead, one at a time, one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time, and this made all the difference. If I hadn't had this kind of daily practice of  living in the present moment, without projecting into the future, I would have been dead in the water a long time ago. When you go through this walk of fire, you find out what you are made of, and hopefully can enable or help some one else going through a similar circumstance.

This sharing is what makes it all worth while. I am simply passing on what was so freely given to me. I can't ever begin to repay the gifts, strength, hope and example given to me by others, who sustained and inspired me to keep going,  to achieve my goals, and to fulfill my dreams.

I am so grateful that words cannot adequately express what I feel in my heart. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for being the wind beneath my wings.


Indigene said...

My hats off to you! I am giving you a standing ovation!!! CONGRATULATIONS!! Well done, m'dear!! Well done! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Indigene! It's been a trip!!!

Judith Joseph said...

Congratulations on your graduation and on the honors you received! As a similarly "mature" person, I really appreciate the sacrifices you must have made and how challenging it must have been to stay focused. Your commitment is truly inspiring.

Judith Joseph said...

Congratulations, Catherine, for your graduation and the honors bestowed upon you! As a similarly "mature" student, I appreciate the sacrifices and commitment you made. It must have been difficult to maintain your focus-- well done! You are an inspiration.

Unknown said...

Thank you Judith!!! Yes that's is for sure Judith, being a mature woman, who is single to boot, is a real challenge indeed! I feel as light as air! The hard work, effort and sacrifice makes the whole thing so much more satisfying and rewarding!

Michelle B. Hendry said...

Congratulations!! What an amazing accomplishment...
You have certainly made the most of the experience. I sometimes think, looking back, that I might have benefited more from my education if I'd gotten it later. One gains a different understanding of things as one gets older. Well done....

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Michelle. It's been a remarkable experience to say the least!

You know the old adage about youth is wasted on the young, well perhaps not always but I'll tell you returning to school as a mature student makes the accomplishment so much the sweeter and so satisfying beyond words! It's never to late for learning. It is a life long process I say, regardless if you go back to school or not.

There was another woman, an artist as well, at my graduation, she was past 65, closer to 70 I'd say. She was on her third degree with Honours!!! Truly an inspiration!