Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anne Carter, M.Ed.

Do you know how long I've wanted to write that?!?!?! 
Anne Carter, M.Ed.  There.  I did it again. 

I picked up my diploma and my parents threw me a big party, so now it truly feels official. 

 Outside Curry, the only buildings in which I ever had class... thank goodness.  Even though I was a student at UVA for 5 1/2 years, I remained lost and disoriented on campus, every. single. time!  Maybe I should have taken a geography class while I was at it? 
 This building was completed during the time I was a student there.  I absolutely love the Palladian windows, and my best/hardest/most challenging class ever met around a big conference table, right beside that window. 
Jeff and Pax went with me when I picked up my diploma.  Most embarrassingly, Jeff had a kazoo in his pocket and took it out to play Pomp and Circumstance when I collected my diploma from the University Registrar.  They were not amused, and neither was I.  He made up for it, though, for taking me out to lunch.

A longer, more elaborated version of the toast I offered at the party:

From the very start of my Master’s program in 2007, I didn’t quite fully believe I would ever see this day.  That first fall semester, the road ahead seemed so long, and so lonely.  I was unique among my peers in that I was a part-time student but a full-time mom.  I wasn’t fresh out of college, like some, and I wasn’t a seasoned teacher with decades’ worth of experience, like others.  In the beginning, juggling the demands of a baby and a preschooler and hoping for another down the road, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to manage being Mom and Student.  Yet my parents, particularly my mother, had already paved the way through their own examples.  Both of them earned advanced degrees when I was a kid.  Apparently their method worked:  in 2009, my brother finished his Master’s, juggling the needs and demands of his own growing family.  Finally, it was my turn. 

 The journey was indeed long, sometimes lonely, sometimes filled with tears, often rewarding.  When I think back to this time, I will remember two professors in particular who challenged me and pushed me and helped me thrive.  I will remember several classmates with whom I shared triumphs and tribulations.  Above all, I will remember those who supported me in the long and incredible journey:  my friends.  And my family. 

You, Friends, who were so generous in allowing me to use your children as guinea pigs in the many practical applications I was required to do for each coursework requirement.  You listened to me rant about this particular assignment or that demanding professor, and you asked how my classes were going.  You consulted me for advice on book selections or reading strategies, allowing me to test out my newly-learned literacy language.  You supported me, you encouraged me, you cheered for me, and when in doubt of what to say to me – you recommended I go enjoy a glass of wine.

And my family.  This journey would have been impossible without you.  Aidan, Leo, and Pax, you were so patient with me, both when I needed to study, and when I needed to use you as test subjects.  You kept me company in the basement as I read and wrote papers, quietly playing with trains or, as one photograph reveals, sleeping on my back in the Ergo as I typed.  You were excited to hear about my teachers and classmates, and were proud to tell your friends that I was a student, too.  Mom and Dad, you cheerfully and tirelessly provided child care, week after week, so that I could attend class or work on a paper. You celebrated with me after every big assignment or class was finished, and you reminded me how to dust myself off and keep going when I was discouraged and frustrated.  You led by example in your own pursuits, and I am proud to follow in your footsteps.  And Jeff – you are my biggest supporter, my loudest cheerleader, my most trusted partner.  Everything I’ve said about the support of our friends and our family describes you, tenfold.  I am humbled by your endless commitment and support of my education.  You helped me fulfill a dream, one that started in our earliest years together.  You never doubted that this day would arrive.      

Henry David Thoreau implored, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Thus, it is because of each of you here today that I was able to go in the direction of my dream, and it is because of you that I am living the life I had imagined:  a life full of friends, rich with family, a dream, actualized.  I will never be able to say it enough: thank you.