Monday, December 05, 2005

Millstone Milestone

Look, it shouldn't have taken me this long. I know that. But after 16 years--which included 5.5 years active duty Navy; 9 months in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the Army Reserve; 2 months in Guatemala with the Army Reserve after Hurricane Mitch; 1 year in Afghanistan with the National Guard; 4 jobs; 1 failed marriage; 6 years as a single dad; the raising of 2 handsome, genius sons; 1 beautiful, caring and understanding second wife--I completed the last class I needed for my degree tonight and am the first member of my family to have attained a college degree. I am equal parts embarrassed and elated and champagne will be (and has been) consumed this evening with both feelings in mind.

Thank you, Franklin Delano Roosevelt--you liberal, service member-lovin'-sonofabitch--wherever you are!

Graduation gifts gladly accepted at the button to the right.

Update: A note to the Republicans who've "congratulated" me on my degree: As I've already pointed out, I know that it took me a long time to get my diploma. Too long. You're right. You're probably also right that I'm stupid because it took me so long. So I suggest you never take anything I say at face value. Really. But you have to remember to ignore the college dropouts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh as well and, for God's sake, don't forget to forever ignore the writings of a professor shown to be a hypocritical ass by an academic failure like me.


Blogger Jim said...

YEEEHAAAAA! All right!

Welcome to academia, Terry, with an extra dose of Australia's finest "Good-on-ya, mate" for doing it the hard way.

(We wimps do college straight out of high school, with Mommy & Daddy footing the bill and no family of our own demanding our attention.)

Now that I am married, working, and have three young 'uns in the household, I'll be damned if I can imaging how anyone can simultaneously work, advance towards a degree, and parent (much less be a single parent) all at the same time.


(For now, we won't demand an encore :-)

9:38 PM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...


You do some super-cool shit. If we all could do what you do, we'd all get super-high-level degrees. And guns!

Thanks, man.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...


I took forever to get mine, and you really have to buckle down when you're working and going to school.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Gregor Samsa said...

Again congratulations! That's a great story.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Yep. That GI Bill does wonders. I collected it for 18 months after 2 years in the Navy and 3 more on Kwajalein. No marriages, but I worked while attending classes. 11 years after I started I got the diploma. It's a good feeling, and I don't blame you for busting out the champagne. Congrats!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Volanta said...

You made me teary. I love happy endings. There seem to be so few lately. Congrats.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Steve-MD/DC said...

Congratulations! It's particularly awe-inspiring to see it done the hard way like that.
Although an unapologetic wimp myself (of the kind described by Jim upthread), I watched my younger brother go through this long, tough process while raising two youngsters and working as a gas bottling plant manager - he missed so many classes due to emergency calls and travel that he had to bail several times, before finding a program with a more compatible schedule. Having a devoted and supporting wife helped him immensely, and as further motivation he had his memories of giving our dad so much sass when the old man tried to convince him to do things the easy (="wimpy") way. He was too smart and cool for that, heh-heh. But once he wised up he basically wanted to be a good example for his kids on this score, and hopefully avoid a repeat of those arguments.
Enjoy the champagne!

11:57 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Congratulations! I can hardly keep track of my classwork by itself, let alone a job, kids, marriage, and military service. A well-deserved pat on the back from a few of us at Sarah Lawrence.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Congratulations! Job well done. You deserve the champagne. I was 48 when I got my BA, 50 when I got my MA -- I'm 68 now and still paying for the latter, but it was worth every cent and every minute I put into it.


3:30 AM  
Blogger Greg Turner said...

Congratulations! It's a wonderful achievement made even moreso by the path you took.

3:57 AM  
Blogger QuinnLaBelle said...


Dance to the music!!!!!!

4:11 AM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Congratulations. You are truly inspirational to persevere through those 16 years to accomplish what you set out to do, while serving our nation and raising two sons as a single father.

I sincerely wish you a prosperous future.

4:55 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


I finished my undergraduate work, graduating summa cum laude in '84, earning degrees in Physics and Chemical Engineering. I have a Ph.D. in Physics from one of the most prestigious schools in the world. I spent seven years conducting research there, and have taught there for the past seven.

I have met many, many, bright people over the last 21 years, over half of them clearly smarter than I am, and the rest at least as smart as I am.

I worked, one-on-one, for a year with a Physics Nobel Laureate, and interacted (less intensively) with others.

I have taught many hundreds of students in the classroom, and advised another 100 or so on their academics, from Freshmen to Ph.D. candidates. Most of these students would be considered very smart to brilliant. Some have left me in awe of their mental capabilities.

I believe I have a good understanding of what constitutes being not-stupid.

I can say with certainty -- you ain't stupid.

You weren't stupid in deciding to pursue a degree after entering the service (and the workforce).

You weren't stupid to persevere despite all of the challenges that arose.

You weren't stupid to keep taking classes despite all of the reasonable excuses you had to stop.

You weren't stupid to stick with it, despite all of the self-doubts that come with being older than your class-mates, being burdened with responsibilities your class-mates lack, being rusty and unfamiliar with the business of being a student, and being the first of your family to earn an college diploma.

As for those who would call you stupid for setting a difficult goal and achieving it, despite all obstacles, then (to quote Terry Welch), fuck them.

They can just continue to lap up the steaming putrescence spewed forth by that bitch as they slither back to the festering colonic abscess they call home.

6:20 AM  
Blogger TJ said...


Graduated from college 8 years after highschool, with two little boys (and no dad) in tow.

Went on to law school a few years later.

I know exactly how hard you've worked. Good on you. And your sons will forever have a great role model to remember when they make it to college.

The degree means so much more when you've had to work for it as hard as we have.

Enjoy your champagne. You deserve it.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Cathie said...

Congratulations on the degree. It's a mystery to me how you manage to be so well read and write a great blog with all that other stuff going on. Enjoy your celebration.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Congrats my man! That's a great achievement.

I do hope all is well.

BTW, I'm blogging over at the new corrente site now.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Congratulations. I was the first in my family to get a college degree today and I still remember how elated my late father was.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Rayne Today said...

Congratulations! Don't apologize for the length of time or the methodology by which you earned your degree. As a non-traditional student you brought more to the classroom to the benefit of fellow students, were more hungry for the degree than students fresh out of high school to the delight of your educators, and more appreciative as time passed as to the value a degree would add to your life.

Been there, done that. Nothing quite like trying to breastfeed a colicky infant while researching and typing a dissertation on one's 38th birthday to make one appreciate the effort other non-traditional students put into attaining a degree. By all means, break out that bubbly and party, you've more than earned it!

8:42 AM  
Blogger california_reality_check said...

Good on ya Terry!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Ereshkigal said...

Congratulations! I finished my undergraduate degree 30.5 years after graduating from high school (I had a BIG hiatus between starting and finishing my bachelor's degree). I zipped right through law school afterwards.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do now.

WIth you experience and a freshly-signed degree you should be invaluable.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Josh Rosenau said...

Nicely done. Congratulations all around.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Congratulations, Terry. To the extent that I'm still a blogger, I'm immensely proud to share the label with you. I hope you celebrate in style.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Media In Trouble said...


we as citizens shoudl be thanking you that you chose to screw up the timelineson your education, and one marriage to get where you are.

but those two boys will always be thankful

as will the rest of your countries citizens.

heckofajob nitpicker

10:40 AM  
Blogger Samurai Sam said...

Congratulations! As a working adult with three kids still working on my degree, you have my utmost respect.


11:54 AM  
Blogger Rocky Smith said...

Congratulations Terry. That is a great accomplishment. Some of us didn't consider you to be of lower intelligence before the degree, but getting it shows you to be less ignorant than average and willing to stick to it until the job is done.

I respect degrees, but the wisest man I've ever known had only an eighth grade education. There truly is a difference between stupid and ignorant. Enjoy the champagne sir!

3:25 PM  

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