Perseverance Pays Off For Grad

Failure was not an option for any of these December graduates | Peter McClaran photo

Failure was not an option for any of these December graduates | Peter McClaran photo

It was one of the greatest presents we ever got.

It cost thousands of dollars, but it’s not a Porsche.

It took many years to come to fruition, but it’s not a lychee tree.

It is brilliantly faceted, but it’s not a Harry Winston.

It arrived on Christmas Eve, sent via a phone call from our daughter.

“I got an A+ in studio,” she exclaimed, the joy and excitement more tangible than Christmas itself. No, it was not an A. It was an A+, the best grade she had ever received during her entire college career and for the final studio of a very challenging pre-professional degree.

The point of this is not to brag — which we parents discreetly try to squeeze into our commentary when we realize that we’re now old and need to start scraping the bottom of the barrel to justify our existence by using the accomplishments of our children. If you will, I only bring this up because of what led up to this unlikely scenario.

Just a week prior to this, I fly in for the big graduation day. On arrival, I am quickly informed that our daughter is formally walking in the ceremony but has to continue on for another semester. What? I flew in for a fake graduation?

The walk from the terminal to the car is a long one, but it becomes clear that no, she technically will graduate. She just has to stay enrolled to avoid re-applying to the college if she wants to submit a portfolio for the doctorate program.

But this procedural glitch has our little one — and she is a spunky little one, with the same thick, curly locks of hair that everyone still thinks is a big wig, and that I think gives her that verve — in a tizzy. The mere complication of the circumstances and the fact that final grades have not yet been posted questions her self-confidence. Should she just forget about the Ph.D. program and move on with her life, start work, settle down and have babies? Oops, I didn’t mean that. Is this field of study too difficult and is the work what she really wants to do for the rest of her life?

Well, the latter question is not an unfamiliar one. Earlier on in her college career, she slacked off because friendships were more important. She received a failing Cfor a crucial studio, while her friends passed with C’s and moved on, leaving her in the dust. She was at a crossroads then. To leave or not to leave this college?

All I remember her saying at the time was, “If I quit now, I would have failed.”

So she retook the studio, hunkered down and came through with flying colors, redeeming herself in the eyes of her professors and herself. For another few years, she toiled until the wee hours many a morning and managed to keep her head above water. In the process, she found that she truly enjoyed the work, the company of her student peers and the professors.

At the airport, I remind her of this and her optimism is buoyed, but she remains indecisive about continuing on to grad school. I fly home knowing only time will tell which road she chooses.

Well, it didn’t take long. When her grades were posted Christmas Eve, the A+ was all the boost she needed, confirming that perseverance pays off; that failure happens only when we quit.

This life lesson is a great gift for anyone to receive.