Larry Graduates!2007 Jun 10
Today I finally graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computing and Software Systems.
The graduation was at the "Hec" Edmundson Pavilion on the UW central campus. It is the same place where Austin & Alan graduated from Inglemoor High School.
The weather was beautiful. All of my family was there. It was great!
Walking down with the diploma. (Well, just a holder for it. The actual diploma will be mailed to me. -grin- )
Update: I finally received it at the end of September.
Getting to this day
In 1981, I graduated from Trinity Western University with an Associate degree in Natural Sciences. I wanted to get a four year degree, but they only had Chemistry available in the technical realm and I wasn't interested in that.
I moved to the Seattle area and tried to get started in the Engineering program at the University of Washington (central) the beginning of 1982. They started me in a "weed out" class with about 250 students in a huge lecture hall.
It was called Logical System Design and covered a number of classical methods for doing design of logic circuits. Even back then the content seemed out of date - you would use these old techniques for circuit design only in narrow circumstances. From my own projects in circuit logic, I knew of some of them, but used other methods because the old ways weren't very practical any more.
The class was also a long distance from work. I had to go in the middle of the day, big bother, expensive, etc, etc.
The biggest problem for me, however, was that tests expected you to be able to apply those methods quickly - no thinking allowed. I don't take tests fast - even when I know the material. In the end, I passed the class with a barely-there grade of 2.4 (out of 4) and didn't continue.
Years later the state of Washington expanded the UW with a branch campus in my city of Bothell. They had a degree program related to computers. My employer had a tuition reimbursement benefit, so I decided to re-start school at the new UW Bothell. My first class was in the beginning of 1988.
I can do school, although the academic life is not intrinsically interesting to me. I was working full-time and had a young family. So for me, one class every other quarter was a sustainable rate. During this time I also took time to put an addition on my house as my own general contractor.
Over the years, there were some minor changes to the graduation requirements. However, the UWB was pretty accommodating. For instance, they did not make any of my course work expire from age.
When I first started, the UWB was located in a leased facility in a business park a few blocks from my work. (Sometimes I walked to class from work.) Today they have their own campus by the freeway a couple miles down the road.
I understand the importance of ceremony although I am not big on it. Before the graduation, I didn't feel strong personal motivation to participate in the ceremony.
All I felt was drained when I walked out of the final exam of my last class. I had worn out my head answering one of the questions. There was no big feeling of accomplishment. And oddly enough, a small sense of bewilderment: "Now what? I will have more time. What should I do with it? Will my life be any different?"
Melanie had encouraged me to participate in the graduation, so I did. Afterward now, I am very glad to have done so. It gave closure to something that I have been working on for a very long time. It has focused the meaning of the accomplishment and given me pride in it.
As those of us who were graduates were walking into the building, we filed through passageways under the spectator stands. At one point the way turned. In the corner were all the professors of my department in their academic robes, clapping for us as we passed. That one gesture meant a lot to me - the ones who had been our task-masters were now approving of us graduates and applauding our accumulated achievement.
Our Open House
Afterward we had a graduation open house at our place. We had invited friends and family and it was a wonderful success - I counted about 35 people at one point. There was snacking, laughing and talking. A very good graduation indeed!
One day as I was going over the I-520 floating bridge to the single class I took at the UW Central campus, the Boeing hydrofoil needed to get through to the other side. They stopped traffic and opened up the middle of the bridge so it could pass - I could have played frisbee in the empty lanes on the other side of the median. The boat itself looked quite exotic. I missed my class that day, but the happening was pretty cool.
Inglemoor High School uses the same Hec Ed Pavilion for their graduations. Although the number of graduates between Inglemoor & UWB was about the same, I noticed that the spectators were much greater for the HS graduation. (There were parents for all the kids.) There were plenty of empty seats at the UWB graduation.
The UW central campus had their graduation the day before ours. It was a classical Seattle grey day with continuing precipitation. Because there are so many students at the central campus, it is necessary to have the graduation in Husky Stadium. People wore little plastic rain ponchos, but they weren't long enough. It was cold and the soaked mortarboard hats drooped.
There is a lot of energy and excitement in a graduation ceremony. However, I am sure the contrasting weather misery of that day will ensure it will be well remembered by its participants!
One of my memorable quotes as a child was "I can sure put on the slow". In this case I graduated (just) before my youngest child. I know it's not a race, but I took some humorous satisfaction from not being last. It is funny how those thing stick with you from early years!
I hadn't gotten grades for my last class by ceremony day. I didn't question whether I had passed, but parts of the class were tough and I was wondering what my grade would be. It turned out pretty good (3.6 out of 4). And my final cumulative GPA is 3.73.
It was a little strange to walk, not knowing in a final way if I actually had graduated!