Sacrifices Pay Off With Honors

There is an indescribable excitement experienced when a letter is received in the mail. So, naturally, I was thrilled the other day to see an envelope not resembling any sort of bill in my mailbox.

Examining the outside of the envelope, I saw my name printed in thick black calligraphy, and in the corner I noticed the graphic on the return address label: a black graduation cap with gold and silver tassels hanging from it. Then I read the name of the sender: Christine Rose Carrier. I had received a college graduation announcement from my beautiful 39-year-old mother.

Opening the envelope, I was overcome with a feeling of pride, yet at the same time, a feeling of regret. I am proud of the years of effort and dedication that she has committed to her schooling, despite other conflicts she faced, which would have forced any other individual to give up. Not only was she a student, but she was a mother, a wife, a working woman and recently became a grandmother. Her responsibilities include more than deciding between studying on Friday night or going to a party.

My regret lies in all that she gave up by putting off her attainment of higher education for so long. She was the top of her class in high school, the student body president, active in both sports and academics — but she did not attend her own graduation. She listened to the graduation ceremony from her home across the street. The sweet voice of her friend singing the graduation song came across as she stood alone and apart from the ceremony cradling a new baby boy in her arms.

Less than two years later, that little boy of hers had a new sister. This girl was faced with all the opportunities her mother before her had, but she had to stay focused and realize how fortunate she was.

Part of my drive to excel academically in high school was because my mother had given up the chance to attend a university because she decided to start a family. I had the ability to do what my mother would have, and I felt I owed it to her because she had sacrificed so I could exist.

I would not be here today if it weren’t for my mother and father. The values they instilled in me are my foundation, and I strive to do well for their sakes and for myself. I have to try hard not to forget that fact among distractions.

The past two years have been host to staunch competition between my mother and me in our schooling. She attends classes at night and on weekends at University of the Pacific, while I am here at UCSD. We have the same amount of work, but somehow she continues to soar above me in the GPA category. It is ridiculous to say that I have it harder here at this university, because my only responsibility is myself. I don’t have to take care of a family or manage a local business, but I do stay up late at night reading and writing papers for my classes, as my mother does.

I often forget how fortunate I am to be at a university now and to be able to graduate in the usual four years. I regret not working hard enough in classes, sleeping through lectures and never cracking the cover to texts, when so many people would give all they have to have the opportunity to attend a university straight out of high school. I neglect to realize how very lucky I am, something many others neglect as well, I am sure.

I will forever admire my mother’s courage to sacrifice her college education after high school to have a baby and marry my father.

She could have easily chosen other paths, but she did not. I know for a fact that many students couldn’t fathom leaving their education on the back burner, but there are some things more important and eternal, such as a new life and family. My mother is one of the individuals I most admire because she has endured a plight while others would have easily given up. She has persisted with determination and endurance and will be graduating as one of her university’s top students.

So I proudly pinned the graduation announcement next to my calendar, anticipating the day I will see my mother walk down the aisle in her graduation cap and gown decorated with honors to receive her much-deserved college diploma.

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