A Silver Degree of Thanks

Lizanne Fluxmon

My hair, now, grows in white, and I am the parent of a recent college graduate. I also just graduated from SPS CUNY with a degree in Business. If you would like to know why I am okay with not having to participate in any activities online or otherwise, I will tell you this;

I started college in the 1980s. I was a teenager fresh out of high school with no direction known. I loved clubs, friends, and traveling; I fell off the path many times and was easily distracted. Many times, I tried to get back and do what I knew was correct. I made so many mistakes. I did not have much direction. Perhaps, I remember that incorrectly. Perhaps, I did not listen to the good advice I was being given. I did not try hard enough, and I lost focus easily. I was impatient and did not complete many started projects.

It was very important for me to finish my degree. I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do with it. I had no offers and no guidance; I still went to France in my sophomore year to complete a semester. CUNY at Queens College campus did not have a study abroad program yet. I received special permission. It took me years to come back to the states, and when I did, I was struggling to get my newfound fiancé here on a Fiancé visa.

I worked for years to support us and put him through school. The marriage produced and child, debt, and heartache. I did not completely abandon hope. The following years were a struggle, and I decided to return to school finally. I did not want to set a bad example for my child. Then I realized that I could accomplish my goal of completing my degree thanks to that line of thought. I returned to the university once I knew my divorce was settled, and I was debt-free.

Shortly after returning to school, I found that my mother was failing. After much discussion, she had chosen to come to stay with us. She was alone and untrusting. Making friends was not an option in her late eighties. My mother asked me to stop taking classes online because then we could spend more time together. Her time was limited, and so I did not register the following semester.

Years later, I reapplied to CUNY-SPS and resumed my studies. My divorce was final, my mother had passed away, and my child was off at college. I worked a full-time job and picked up a few hours a week at a side hustle and took online classes.

2020 has been a strange year. We have “cocktails to go” ( yes, there is still a party girl somewhere in there), curbside pick up for hair and beauty supply, toilet paper hoarding, and elbow bumping as a weird greeting ( Please let’s stop that, it looks strange). We have video conference appointments to show the doctor the spider bite /bee sting that got infected, and we are expected to wear masks in stores. I graduated from college. That is very strange. It finally happened! Now, I have this huge accomplishment under my belt.

This is what it has done for me so far. It made me realize how much I do not know. It made me realize I can accomplish my goals. Besides some ugly wonky quilts, I can complete projects. Like the quilts, I am not sure what to do with it. I have it. It is there. It has inspired me to continue and to believe in myself. I have completed many projects since I graduated. I am now working on my driver’s license.

Yes, I am applying to new jobs but with a new expression on my face, one of confidence and anticipation. I am aware that millions are vying for the same job, but this is new for me, the realm of jobs I am now qualified to apply for is more interesting but more in sync with what I am qualified to do. Now, I approach everything in a different state of mind. Things have changed. My outlook has changed. The energy around me has changed.

Time is precious, and I always did what I wanted with my time. It took me down some interesting roads. Some roads I would avoid if I had to do it all again. Others, I am grateful for having taken. There was a reason I kept coming back to finish my degree. It was that it put me in a euphoric state of mind. The awareness I gained during my studies has made me a better citizen and a more valuable human being.

I look forward to what I can offer, moving forward.

Obtaining my degree was a very personal endeavor. I did not do it for any other reason but to prove to myself that I could. Without very much encouragement, I returned to school, believing in myself without very much faith from others. Yes, I sit here with a smile on my face, feeling quite pleased with myself. For me, that is what is all about. It was personal growth. I do not share this accomplishment with anyone other than myself and my resume.

A final word of advice for anyone interested: Sometimes a degree will help you attain a better standard of living through job placement, sometimes a degree gives you something personal that makes you carry yourself differently, makes you appreciate yourself for your perseverance, dedication, hard work, diplomacy, sacrifice, and all the knowledge gained. It’s like adding a little cayenne to an already delicious chili con carne. It gives you a little kick that you were not expecting, but, in the end, glad you did.

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