In 3 Days on May 4, 2013 My daughter will Graduate from Utah State University. GO AGGIES! I could not foresee this day 23 years ago when she was exactly the age of age of 3 months and four days (and 9 minutes) old. I was barely used to the idea of being a mom and in charge of another life be sides my own. It feels like a hundred years and another life time ago.
Random memories come flashing through my mind at different stages of her growing up. She was just as brilliant and genius as every other kid on the planet. At the age of 2 when she was playing reverse peek a-boo by herself by putting a blanket on her head, pulling it off and saying…
Or running into the living room and say…
”mommy? What time is it? Eight Firty!!”
and run out of the room laughing out loud.
We used to pass a gas station with a sculpture of a dinosaur next to it. One day, when she was the age of three, while I was pumping the gas she said…
“Mommy… look at that tremendous dinosaur! Have you even seen a tremendous dinosaur like that before? I like tremendous dinosaurs!”
Which prompted me to take her to the local museum to look at more dinosaur stuff. That was the beginning of our discovering the world together. If she had an interest in some thing I would find way she could explore it and learn about it. Sometimes she was just ok learning a little more and other times she would delve into it with curiosity until the hunger for knowledge was explored and then we were on to the next thing. In elementary school she liked to do cartwheels so I put her in Gymnastics class. One time she was in the yard until dark trying to get that stupid cartwheel down correctly. When she sent her mind to something. She did it. We determined she was just too tall for her age and too young to coordinate her body to do gymnastics. So it was on to the next things
She had an interest in music and liked to play around with piano and key boards and sing. So I put her in music lessons.. Since her Aunt had a key board she liked to play with. In Jr high school she fell in love with the violin and began lessons and learned to read music. This was the birth of her being as she calls herself and “orch dork” (orchestra dork) She may not remember but with her learning to play music we got her a keyboard and a self teach piano program so she wouldn’t be so board in the summer. She could go at her own pace. She finished the piano program in less than a week. so she began put some of her poetry to music. When she got bored with that, it was on to the next thing. She became a crafty sort of person. I taught her how to make bath salts and she had beads and string and elastic and started making wooden bead bracelets. She sold them to the ladies at my sister’s office. I thought “hey, this kid can make money…”
When her 1000 colored wooden beads were all gone… she was on to the next thing. I kept her off of computer games and video games, which meant a lot of her entertainment, would come from good ol’
mom. It was a love hate thing. When her friends were grounded or playing their video games, good ol’ mom would grab the tennis rackets or the roller blades and off we’d go. One day is was raining and we were bored so for 2 hours we just walked the neighborhood with the purpose of jumping into every mud puddle we could find. Who ever was dirtiest was the winner.
(I won )
I made sure that anytime she committed to something that involved other peoples time and money, she would commit to one year. If she was grounded it wouldn't be from a rehearsal or a practice where she was part of a team because the team would then suffer at her expense which is unacceptable. I hope this is what helped her to be a team player and hold her end of responsibilities where other people were involved. The sad thing is… while I was teaching my child these things, many of her friends were not learning the same things: being responsible, accountable, team players, following through with commitments and obligations. She doesn’t deal well with people who don’t have these same principles and ethics. She has learned to tolerant them while keeping them at arms length.
I taught her to drive at age 11. Shoot! She was tall enough and pretty mature for her age. So I would let her drive 2 blocks to where my sister worked, or 1 mile to church and back on Sundays. Teaching her things and watching her figure things out was fun.
Since the age of six she always said she wanted to be a “premature baby Dr.” By Sixth Grade I was informed the correct verbiage was a Neonatalogist. (exxcuuuuze me!)
When she entered JR High I only had 3 class requirements of her: She had to choose 1 instrument, 1 language and 1 sport and maintain it through High School. She chose the violin, Spanish and basket ball. When she didn’t make the basket ball team she started throwing the discus for track. Either way those things along with her various church activities kept her busy, out of trouble and entertained enough for her various interest. I made deals with her that if her GPA didn’t drop below a certain point, she could skip school 2 days a semester, Which she never did because she hated missing school unless she was sick. (who does that? “hates missing school mess…”) On her birthdays I would send flowers and balloons. A couple of times I showed up on her lunch break with a few pizza’s, balloons and cupcakes. Yeah, I would just “show up” and not tell her. I’ve done it since she was in elementary school. To make sure she wasn’t screwing around in class and to make sure she wasn’t being screwed with in class. And my parents did the same thing to me and my siblings. I remember feeling horrified one day in 3rd grade looking up and seeing my father talking to the teacher. I remember thinking…
“uh ohh was I just asking a fool or was I in behavior mode..?” It’s a good strategy. Every parent should do it.
My daughter was set on going into the medical industry so she took a field trip to the medical lab at the University when she was 16. It was cool, but the reality of having someone else’s life in your hands was a bit more than she felt she could take. So after all these years of wanting to be a “premature baby dr” she needed to find another career path. So she chose engineering. As long as I can remember anytime something broke, she wanted to tear it apart, look inside and see how it worked. This kid has asked me for old TV sets, phones, radios, VCR’s, walkmans, etc. “Mom, can I tear it apart and look inside??” Even now every once in a while she’ll ask to destroy something. The fun thing is…
she figures out how to fix a bunch of things too, like her car radio. Her next thing is to figure out how to change her own breaks. Excellent, because then she can change mine too!
She was accepted to USU her senior year of H.S as an engineering major. She also rec’ a four year tuition scholarship for Academics. She took the ACT’s twice. USU wanted her BYU and U of U didn’t want her until after she took it the second time and increased her score. She chose USU saying…
“IF USU wants to take credit for educating me to be the amazing person I'm going to be, who am I to stop them?” (Go ahead on baby girl!).
The more she was getting her General Education done and working toward the Engineering major the more she recognized how difficult it would be for her to have a family and be an engineer. She also had a desire to help children and thought. She had many friends who were caught up in the foster care system. Eventually she changed her major to Something I can never remember, but it had to do with being a family home therapist and dealing with families before they get to the point of sending children to foster care. I have a few friends who work with Child welfare here in Utah so I sent her to work with one for the day. She said it broke her heart but she hoped she could be of some help to these families.
My daughter has been fortunate to find scholarships, grants, internships and work study that pays for her other expenses. She entered a work study program called “read America” where she helped tutor 3rd graders how to read. This is where she fell in love . Soon after she was wanting to change her major again. She was reluctant because she felt she let the family down by not being a Doctor or Engineer. I told her we don’t care what she graduates in as long as she graduates and can make a living. She changed her major for what would be the last time. She is good at what she does no matter what it is, but teaching children, she is excellent. So much so that as a student, her professors have asked her to speak at Teacher conferences. The dean of her college tracked her down at her job to tell her if she goes to graduate school is has to be a USU and they offered her a paid apprentice position and internship to help with expenses. She put a pause on that situation just tying to get through getting her bachelor’s degree. To which she will be getting in 3 days. 3 days!
I have received conformation that before my daughter was born, she was on the other side of Heaven hanging out with my Grandmother.
My grandmother went to Lane College ( Same Time as Alex Haley I believe) and got a Degree in Nursing and Nutrition. But since folks weren't hiring black Nurses or dietitians she ended up being a kindergarten teacher. As a matter of fact many of my friends from JR High and High School were taught by my Grandmother . So my family is well known in the area for her, and my grandfather. What’s even more amazing is my daughter is a Grandtwin. She looks like my grand Alieshia: daughter @ H.S Graduation
Pearl Dryden (Flowers) Dudley: Grandmother
(try punishing your 12 year old grandmother when she does something you want to smack her for…Not so easy!)
I believe the 2 of them were thick as thieves before my daughter was born because there's soo much of my Grandmother in her. She was born 4 years after my Grandmother passed away. There was a lot of education going on up there. Primed and ready for the world.
I don't think it's just coincidence that my child is following the footsteps of my Grandmother. I believe she listened to the whisperings of her ancestors and followed the path they created for her. So many doors opened when she was placed before them as if waiting for her to walk in. For some of us it just happens that way. Her whole life has been that way and I had to make her brave, strong and independent enough to walk through them with or without me.
When I think of my daughter and her education, 2 images come to mind.
One you will know of:
Ruby Bridges. Every time I think of her story the first black child to integrate public schools. I cry. She was six years old. SIX YEARS OLD. What a heavy, heavy load for such a little girl.
Six years old!!! To be threatened and told her food was poisoned. How scary it must have been to face vicious hostile, white crowd just to get an education. Escorted by state Marshall's to keep her life intact. I can't Imagine. I'm so grateful for her strength and for her pioneer spirit that allowed her to march forward in paving the way. Even her name, Ruby Bridges... a visible symbol in bridging racial gaps and standing out like the jewel she is. So strong in faith of her God in asking the father to "Forgive them, for they know not what they do.." What an honor. I weep for the six year old who was brave and scared and did it anyway. I stand in awe of her courage.
I weep for the six year old who was brave and scared and did it anyway. I stand in awe of her courage.
This other image I'll be almost no one recognizes. I went to the Civil Rights exhibit and the Leonardo last February. It was UH-MAY-ZING! I saw this photo. I don't recall who the photographer is so if anyone out there knows, please tell me so I can give credit.
The story behind this photo was about the first "HEAD START" and the sadness of how the black schools and student didn't have even the proper materials to learn with.
So she won't forget the road that was paved for her to have these graduating moments and so she will instill in her student this legacy (which actually belongs to us all, Black, White, Latin, Asian and everything in between) and desire to grain knowledge, and to fight the good right to pave the way for those who will come behind us.
So my family has come for the graduation. And when I say family I mean those who walk the Earth and those who dwell on the other side. I can see and hear them. ' My parents flew in today, my mother from Michigan and my Father from Arizona. Their parents have already been here for a week. My daughter was wondering why the dog has been flipping out. I didn't really tell her because these things tend to freak her out sometimes. But she has been surrounded by Dudley's and Gambles and Jordans and Flowers and Warfield's for the last week.
She is their legacy and they are here to support and cheer her on to victory. I hope somehow she gets a small glimpse of who is here in her behalf. And I hope she knows they pleased with choices she made, the hurdles she's crossed and the accomplishment's she's achieved. She is their success and the example of her family members who follow behind her. The Lord has paved her way with blessings all her life and will continue to do so.
Many of my friends have looked at me with a saddened face and said... "She's all grown up now and startling life on her own don't you want to just hold her back for a little while, it's all moving so quickly?"
I say to them as a proud mother. Hold her back? NO WAY! I didn't do all this to hold her back. How will I ever know what kind of mother I truly am unless I give her to the world and see what she can add to it? I"m excited to see her go. I'm excited to watch her fly. I'm excited for the world to be blessed with all she has to add to it! i can't wait to see her in action!" I thank All who encountered my child through education whether it be in the class room or outside of it. As a Single mother I was NEVER a single mother. So this is an accomplishment we share with many! I thank USU for taking her, guiding her, nurturing her, calling her and letting her know there were scholarships and grants she qualified for and having her come in and apply for them. I thank USU for including health care cost into tuition so that was one less thing as a student she had to worry about. I thank USU for having a Black Student Union to give minority kids like mine a place to come together and socialize in a safe environment focusing on academics and community. I thank My Daughter, Alieshia for putting in the work to reach those accomplishments that many who come from single parent homes don't end up reaching.
As she puts on her cap and gown and walks with her Tassel and her Cum Laud cords.... I'll be saying Watch out World... There's an Aggie in the house about to change the world in her own little way.