It was my very last class of my senior year at the University of Oklahoma. As Dr. Howe passed out term papers, I was already celebrating my liberation in my head. I doodled on my notebook to cut the anticipation.
Then, the words “I don’t think so, Lisa,” broke my train of thought.
I looked up to see that Dr. Howe was talking to me. He had scarcely spoken to me all semester. My first stunned thought was “He knows my name?”
Then he said, “Your notebook,” and pointed to a note I had scribbled in the margin with the words “Last class FOREVER!”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think you’ll be back.”
Then he smiled with an air of wisdom unique to college professors, and handed me my paper before he walked back to the head of the class to begin the final lecture. After four grueling years of higher education—including two summers—I could not imagine a time when I was less willing to submit myself to additional torture. Practically my entire life had been spent within the confines of a classroom.
I was done. No more school. No more college. I wanted nothing more than graduate on Saturday, get a job and put my brand-spankin’ new degree to work.
That was more than 20 years ago. What I didn’t know then was that Dr. Howe knew me better than I thought. He knew my potential, although I barely knew him at all. He knew the inter-workings of my mind by reading my papers and by observing my thought processes. He knew I would crave more.
My first college degree changed my station in life. It turned a shy, small-town girl into a career-woman who was not afraid of the big city or the unknown. That degree also gave me the opportunity to earn a paycheck I never thought possible and help support a family.
Now, I realize that higher education that feeds your soul. All those people doubting the value of a college degree need to realize that today’s bachelor’s degree is yesterday’s high school diploma. Moreover, there is a tidal wave of millennials hitting the market who stayed in college when the job market plummeted, so the next generation will have more master’s-degreed, entry-level employees than ever.
Today, my great dream of going back to graduate school has come true as I started my first year in the College of Media Communications at Texas Tech University. In spring of 2019, I will complete a Master’s in Strategic Communication and Innovation and cross the graduation stage in a whole new set of regalia. I am so grateful and excited. I’m also tired from staying up late doing homework after a full day at the office, but so what.
Somewhere, Dr. Howe is saying, “I told you so.”