Monday, May 17, 2010

Graduation Pictures...

ASL Interpreter for the graduation ceremony. Note the Pink Panther in the chair to her right...

Pink Panther - class mascot for the Class of 2010

President of the College - who took the Pink Panther in her chair in stride and humor.

Receiving my Diploma...

...and my Hood!

Proud relieved graduate of the class of 2010!

In front of the auditorium.

Cameron and Skeptic
(She was my college roommate my first time through college over 20 years ago! Faithful amazing friend!!)

Cameron and Dreamweaver
(I would not have this degree if it were not for my beloved Dreamweaver.)

My parents, who have loved me all the years of my life - I am so thankful they were able to be here on this day!!!

(not pictured, but present - True Heart and Priestess, who had to hurry on to a family birthday party, and Light, who went AWOL in the mob after the graduation; she was a Junior Marshall for the Graduation. Their love and support saw me through all this in a big way!)

The Graduation Story - Pictures to Follow

The big day arrived at last, this past Saturday on May 15th! After three long years with more roadblocks and obstacles than I ever imagined, all of a sudden, this semester everything fell into place. Well, I can't say fell into place - shoved, prodded and beaten in to place, with the help of many, many people.
Last semester, I was standing with 2 major incompletes due to a death in the family from the preceding year, and an absolute inability to pass a foreign language class despite being an A student. This was actually fairly terrifying. The 2 incompletes were enormous - my senior Exhibit, and the first part of my Internship for my Art Therapy major. I did manage to get the Internship taken care of last semester. One down.

Then I tackled my senior exhibit this semester, which can be seen in the preceding post. That went great, but as is normal for senior art majors, caused a great deal of chaos. Spent the next few weeks desperately back tracking to pick up missed and dropped assignments that fortunately my teachers were all very understanding about. Evidently the chaos field surrounding a Senior Exhibit is well known to the professors! Senior Exhibit was on April 14th...graduation was on May 15th. Four weeks...
Two down. And still no solution on the foreign language requirement. My Spanish teacher had put forth the idea that perhaps I had a learning disability, and if that could be proven, they could finagle the language requirement so I could graduate. So I started earlier with VocRehab, which in the end dropped the ball, and got no help there. However, my therapist ran her own tests on me, came up with a stunning result and sent the documentation to the school. I do indeed have a disability - a cognitive organizational learning disability, which explains a whole 'lot of other things in my life as well. That is a post for another day - the school accepted her diagnosis, and arranged to count my existing work on Languages and let me go!
Three weeks before graduation I found out that since I had incompletes on my record, I had been dropped from the list of graduating seniors until they could be resolved. Result - I had not received any graduation mail outs, information or the bill (!) and had no idea what all had gotten by me. Scramble was on. In the middle of this, the sweet lady who runs the campus bookstore caught me in the middle of campus heading for yet another office -

"Hey, Cameron! How are you?"

"Fine, a little in a hurry-"

"Say, aren't you graduating?"

"Uh, yeah-"

"Have you picked up your robe?"

"...uh, no. Where do I-"

(Seizes my arm) "Come on!"

Back across the campus we go, whereupon walking into the bookstore, she calls out to her co-worker "I caught another one!" Mental image of her out in a safari outfit with a large caliber rifle bagging unrobed seniors...She produced a robe and a cap and had me sign on the dotted line, so I had that problem solved.
Two weeks before graduation, one of my art professors comes to me and goes, "Oh, I need this, this and this for the rest of your senior show requirement by next Monday, so I can submit the grade early." Ack!!!! More scrambling! And may I mention at that point I was running on about 3 hours of sleep a night...

Two weeks before graduation, everything became a blur of last minute items, assignments, and scheduling that honestly are not clear in my mind at this point. The final insult to injury was that rehearsal for graduation - required to graduate -and my final exam/presentation for Expressive Arts Therapy - required for the class to pass - were double scheduled on top of each other. *headdeskthud* I thought of going to the biology lab and seeing if they could clone me in time...

Got that resolved, by showing up for the rehearsal first, leaving early and then scrambling - there's that word again - for the presentation I had to do! Which went well. Whew!

By the day before Graduation, I wasn't really believing it was still going to happen. I kept having this ghostly feeling that they were going to pounce out of the bushes and say "Wait! We found this technicality - you can't graduate after all." I swear I was having Graduation Traumatic Stress Disorder! Of course, years ago on my first trip through college, I was told 3 weeks before graduation that I could not graduate due to the fact that - oh gee, there was this 3 hour credit class I should have taken (never covered by my advisor in our discussions) and I was 3 hours short. So, it does happen folks, and you can see why I was a little jumpy!
Oh - a backtrack moment. In my third week BG (before graduation) I found the dress requirement for under the robes...a black dress and heels. Have I mentioned this is a prestigious all womens school? Last time I looked this trans-masculine butch lesbian did not own a black dress. Nor did I have any INTENTION of owning a "little black dress". So Friday before graduation, I am out hunting men's black dress pants. On a shoe string budget. Checked out a local budget store, which will remain mercifully (for them) unnamed - store shabby, dressing rooms ramshackle, bathrooms stinky - but oh the prices are worth it! I came away with a nice pair of men's black dress pants and a short sleeved black dress shirt. I do own, thankfully a pair of low black dress boots. So Saturday morning, we set out, Dreamweaver driving, me in my black finery with my cap and gown in hand - still in the plastic wrapper by the way. Way too many kitty cats in the house! I was determined to graduate with out a fine haze of cat hair trailing behind me...
The day was bright and fair, and gorgeous, and perfect, and I started to BELIEVE...
We graduates met in the dining hall adjacent to the auditorium, and found our seats in a double row of chairs with our names on them. I started to get excited. When time came to go, we all stood up and went out the double doors of the dining hall to go outside and around to the entry to the auditorium...and all the faculty and staff were waiting in the hall way in their academic finery, cheering us on and clapping and calling us by name....
And I was walking on air the rest of the way!
I had done it!
I could not have accomplished it without those teachers, and the staff who worked so hard to help me pull through, or my family and friends who prayed for me and loved me and supported me every step of the way...
and perhaps most of all without the unswerving love and courage and faithfulness of my beloved wife Dreamweaver!
At 48, I am now a college graduate, with a BA in Art Therapy! And this summer I start my Masters program in Marriage and Family Therapy! So the journey continues...
But I will never ever forget this day, ever. And I will let the graduation pictures in the next post tell the rest of the story!
Thanks to all who read this blog for following along with me...more to come...always!