It was five years ago, at the age of 40, that I decided to finally realize a life-long ambition to get a tertiary education. This wasn’t a random decision or something that I decided to do after a dream one night. This decision came after a particularly bad bout with depression that almost killed me. I spent two weeks in a hospital after that episode and this is where the decision was made. I was going to get that diploma. No more excuses and no more quitting. I was going to do it and that was that.
But before I go any further I have to explain that this letter isn’t about me finishing college. Right now I have three modules remaining. I will complete them. No doubt about that. Instead, this letter is about my experience as a student. Or, to put it more accurately, as a student of Boston CityCollege. I say this because I honestly feel that I would never have got the same amount of time, respect and encouragement at any other institution.
Attending a college as a 40-year-old where the other students were half your age is quite an adaunting experience but I took a deep breath and made the leap. Next was to find the time to study full-time. I’m a member of the Department of Correctional Services and work a ten-day on and four days off cycle. I applied for a fulltime night shift post which was thankfully approved. My life for the next five years was to work at night and study in the day. On top of this, I had to maintain a marriage. Again, not an easy task but I’m still at it.
I look back now and think of all the hardships. I think of the times I honestly felt that I was losing my mind. Exhaustion crept in and so did the depression. At times I really wasn’t an easy person to be around and sometimes innocent people got the worst of it. There are a few students and even staff members that can tell you about this. I had to bow my head a lot of times and ask for forgiveness. Each and every time I was forgiven. Boston College staff are really professional and young people can be so understanding. I’m really grateful for this and I’ll never forget it.
The years swept by and I managed to pass each and every exam and now I’m almost done. But when I think about it, I actually wish it wouldn’t end. I grew attached to Boston. I grew attached to the staff and students and also made some truly remarkable friendships. Bonds were formed and some were lost. You see time moves forward and when you have a goal you have to keep moving forward. This means you have to say goodbye to a lot of people. They have their own goals and their own directions to move in and they have to be allowed to do so.
From what I’ve experienced I feel that I’ve truly given myself a gift. A gift of learning and growing.I’m 45 now, and I’ve learned more in these five years than an entire lifetime. These years were truly remarkable years. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve learned about others. I’ve met so many young people that stood out. Young people that were so powerful and so far beyond their years. Most of them were almost totally oblivious of these amazing qualities. I guess it was some of that innocence that made them even more remarkable. I miss a lot of them, those that had to move on. But I know that wherever they are they stand out even more. Products of higher learning. Products of Boston.
My one hope is that every young person should go through what I’ve been through. To go through this important and necessary phase and experience all of its benefits. Hopefully, those that do will see this world differently. Through opened eyes. Through enlightened eyes.
My time will come to leave you, Boston. I know I will never forget the warmth and joy of learning that you shared with me. I know I will never forget the time I spent with you.
Thank you for everything.
B – Stanger Boston College