I just got a text from a friend and staff member Maggie, thanking me for flowers and a card we gave her at our team meeting this morning, honoring her upcoming graduation. She thanked me for recognizing her and for encouraging her to celebrate her hard work.
Maggie is a single mom, like I was, putting herself through college while trying to raise her children and earn a living. I’ve been there and I know how much sacrifice has gone into accomplishing this milestone. She didn’t have plans to attend her graduation ceremony and I’ve been encouraging her to go. She had downplayed the importance since it’s “just” community college ,and her Associated Degree, and no one would really want to sit there for two hours. It’s not “Just”! Maggie has two kids, a daughter in high school and a 4th grade son who have also sacrificed time with mom, home cooked meals, clean laundry…who knows what else, while she persevered. Excelled would be more accurate. Her kids deserve a celebration too (even if it is two hours in the hot sun).
Maggie explained that her family doesn’t make a big deal of these things. Like when she ran her first half marathon (Maggie has a crap load of medals now for all her her half marathons and Tough Mudder challenges…it’s impressive) but her dad didn’t acknowledge that when she called to share what she was so proud of. He just compared his cleaning of the upstairs with her half marathon big day. My parents were that way as well. Maybe that’s how four out of their five children ended up dropping out of high school. No one was emphasizing the things that really matter in life.
Maggie is off to San Diego State University soon and that’s a big deal too. Today she ordered her tickets for graduation. I’m so proud of her. She was moved that we didn’t let her big day go by without recognition and decided she wouldn’t either. She’s worked really hard for this day and it’s an injustice to not let it shine the way it deserves to in her life. So between now and June 7th, I hope Maggie will pause. Take a look back, reread her favorite college essay, think about her favorite moments and teachers. Contemplate her challenges ,and the way she has risen to overcome them. And then celebrate all that has gone into this moment before it passes into the next. Congratulations!