Earlier this month, Courtney completed her coursework and officially became a graduate of the University of California, Davis. The event would normally have resulted in a gathering of family members in Davis to celebrate her accomplishments over the last four years. But with the pandemic and restrictions imposed on large gatherings, she had to settle for an online ceremony and small get together at our house. So instead of having pictures around campus in all of her graduation regalia, we had to settle for a less subdued picture in our family room.
While I don’t remember many of the details from my college graduation of 30 years ago, there is one part of the ceremony that has stuck with me – the ending. I can still vividly remember walking out of the RPI fieldhouse and the feelings of elation, relief, and anticipation that filled me. I’m not even sure I walked out as much as floated out. It felt great knowing I had achieved the goals I set out four years earlier, and, with job in hand I was looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life.
Unfortunately, the events of 2020 have taken this cherished moment away from Courtney and hundreds of thousands of other college and high school graduates. Instead of a celebration and gatherings with their family and friends, they’ve had to settle for alternative methods to commemorate this momentous occasion in their lives. For Courtney, it was an impressive achievement, and one for which she should be very proud of herself.
When she left for college four years ago, she chose to study Computer Science, partly based on my admonition to at least give it a shot. She had never taken a computer science course or written a computer program of any kind. She had absolutely no clue what she was getting herself into or what lie ahead.
I don’t know how she felt going through the process, but there were moments over those first two years where I wasn’t sure if she would stick with CS or switch paths. There were quite a few late night coding sessions where I did my best to help her given my limited knowledge of C. There were the close calls in Physics and advanced Mathematics classes that somehow worked themselves out at the end of the day. While those phone calls were long and grueling at times, I’ll confess that I missed them as she became an upperclassman, found her footing, became a more proficient coder, made friends in her major, and needed less and less, if any, of my help. Overall, it was fun watching from afar as her persistence and work ethic pushed her along and enabled her to achieve her goals in the allotted four years.
When your kids are young, you always want the best for them. You can wish and hope, you can push and prod, but it’s ultimately up to them to choose their path. Watching the kids grow, mature, and make their own decisions has been one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve experienced as a parent. With Courtney ending this chapter of her life and preparing to start her career later this summer, I couldn’t be happier for her.
My warmest and heartiest congratulations Courtney. It’s been a joy to watch you mature and grow. I wish you all the best as you embark on the next chapter of your life. And always remember, the journey is the reward. Learn and grow, and enjoy every single day along the way.