"When you graduate, you’re not done. The diploma is just your license to begin learning."

Bill helped me to put it in perspective. I’ve always been glad he did because it took me much longer than most to get my degree.

I began working in grade school but began my first "real" job working part time as a cashier in the local grocery when I was senior in high school. Back then, I just had to demonstrate that I could add and subtract accurately.

Now I’m an "old lady". (It’s not my perception but one that others use to classify me. They do that, you know for statistics. But that’s another story.)  Once in a while I pull out my degree – that "magic piece of paper" that everyone said would be the key to success and I recall the countless hours I spent studying to get top grades. And, I laugh!

I began my college education straight out of high school  It took 28 years for me to get my bachelor’s degree. That was just one of countless achievements I earned in 50 years. Adult continuing education courses and  self-directed study played a huge role in my ability to stay ahead of trends in the career fields I chose to pursue.

But no matter what career path we choose for oursleves, the fickle winds of supply and demand and factors far beyond our control, things like economic downturns and public perceptions play a significant roll in how we proceed. Sometimes to get to the next level, we step back or veer slightly off course.

Tomorrow, my education begins again. I’m going to be trained on how to bag groceries with the anticipation that I will soon be able to work as a cashier in the local grocery again. And what of those other careers…the education and skills..the accomplishments of the past? They’re still alive and well.  I will be pursuing them with the same passion of years past and taking them to new levels. 

And what do I tell youngsters when they ask my opinion about going to college and getting a degree?

Your education is critical! Be a sponge. Read, study and experience everything you can — but make sure you focus your energy on those things your passionate about. If it interests you learn everything you can. If it doesn’t, let it go. Don’t focus on the degree…that’s a piece of paper you pick up along the way for the benefit of others. The real value is the knowledge you put into your own head. No one can take that away from you. Choose to follow your passion. That is yours to keep no matter what job life calls you to do.

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