I am the oldest of four children born to a Mom who graduated from high school and a Dad who left school in the eighth grade. I am the only one of their kids who gradated from high school and college. However I did not walk for high school graduation; instead I moved to Virginia Beach with a few of my friends on graduation day (1974). I figured they had three other kids whose graduation they could look forward to and the impetuous offer was an adventure that felt so so right. Little did I know I would be their only high school graduate.
My parents did attend my college graduation as well as my daughters high school and college graduations. It was after my daughters celebratory dinner that Dad said that he regretted not finishing high school and college. He did get a GED and attend college while he had four kids. He studied mechanical engineering at UMASS Lowell in their evening program for two years. I asked how he felt about his other children and their education. He shrugged while saying “I did the best I could”. At the time I felt sad and angry for my siblings and myself. We grew up in a tough unhappy household. I struggled to work and pay for every cent of my college education while many of my friends had family support. Dad will soon be 86. I now realize he always plainly and simply spoke his truth. He got zero encouragement and support as a child so he did not learn to give it.
I knew early on in life (not sure why or how) that an education would change my life and provide an alternative to the attitude of my upbringing – my parents poverty mentality. I have never regretted passing on a graduation ceremony to explore my curiosity of what life had to offer beyond my family and home town.