The year 1969 brought graduation from high school. Thank you, God.
The senior year had been one of hard work, very hard work. My whole college life depended on the sacred "win" of a scholarship. Long story there, but anxiety level was such that I developed an ulcer and lost twenty pounds.
My GPA before senior year had been a miserable 3.5; it could not, would not “win” me much. The word “win” was confusing then and is now. One could not “win” anything as precious as a scholarship. One could claw up the mountain of hope and perhaps make it to the top, holding that gold medal scholarship high.
End of school and graduation--- a memory I will never forget. I was one of four valedictorians. Our high school had a policy that if the GPAs were so close by the middle of May, there would be three or four valedictorians. This “win” required me to speak at graduation.
A scholarship was soundly mine. A selected college accepted my application. I had a speech written and then re-written in my head. The other two and I practiced our speeches in an empty gym, where our words sounded hollow. The fourth declined speaking at the commencement, so shy.
I “won” the position of the final speaker, the one who would introduce the specially invited speaker. Even though I knew each word, each nuance, something changed as I looked out at the other graduates, knowing each one, suspecting their dreams and hopes.
Some boys, too many boys would be heading to Vietnam. A few pregnant girls would be getting married in a few days, since the district’s policy forbid married students from attending school. College, farming, marriage, vocational schools, and just moving somewhere were the rest of the tasseled hats.
What did I say? Tell you in two days.
This post is dedicated to Joanne Noragon who asked an important question after my three UFO posts: I'll enjoy seeing how college changed your outlook and furthered your education. What was the big letdown?