A mere 30 years ago tomorrow, I was seated — alphabetically between Terri Pickelsimer and Pam Pinyan — in a folding chair on the spacious lawn of the Berry College Chapel.
Then-U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell gave the graduation address. And, more importantly, then-college President John Bertrand gave us diplomas.
I remember the striped tie I wore; the mixed feelings of saying good-bye to dear friends; and the pride my parents expressed more with facial expressions than words.
College was an option neither anticipated nor prepared for in my house. But I had worked in a carpet mill, blown insulation into hot attics and mixed mortar for inebriated brick layers. I wanted something different.
My older brother Rob was a strong influence — and blazed the first-generation college trail ahead of me. With a patchwork of loans, grants, scholarships and part-time jobs we both made it to graduation and to graduate school.
So many opportunities for creative work, extensive travel and meaningful interaction with a wide variety of persons have resulted from my educational experiences. More than anything else, education is the defining difference for me.
My life was greatly enriched by caring teachers — like Dr. Jorge Gonzalez and Dr. Bill Hoyt — and a supportive community of friends.
The campus entrance at Berry has long been known as “The Gate of Opportunity.” Indeed it was for me.
“Far up in hills of Georgia stands, Old Berry tried and true…“
(The above photo is of Ford Dining Hall, a gift from Henry Ford. It was one of two dining halls during my student days . I chose to work there because of the building’s stately architecture and its proximity to women’s dorms.)