Diploma Is a Dream Come True

Pattee Baggett is a new college graduate living in Westminster.

I did it. The hopes and dreams of a lifetime have culminated on a fragile piece of paper that signifies fulfillment of the requirements of a bachelor of science degree from the University of San Francisco's Orange County campus.

While others may recount the cheery years of college and fraternities, I recall the frenzied struggle as I juggled my full-time career as a secretary, reared my two daughters and resolved my marital difficulties to pursue this phantom object of my childhood dreams.

Although I walked alone to the podium to collect my hard-earned price, a thousand voices echoed from the past. At this moment of triumph, I salute the doubters who spurred me onward, the obstacles I surmounted that fueled my quest and the specters of failure and despair that shadowed my long and winding pathway. I understand now why I feel such a sense of joy, because without the tears, my happiness would be incomplete.

Although on the surface it appears that my motive was selfish as I pursued this elusive symbol of equality, there were many reasons for my pursuit. The attainment of my degree was a major accomplishment in a life that had much promise but many disappointments.

As a secretary, I learned that success, in the world's standards, is measured by degrees. Relegated to my lowly station, I lacked the prerequisite for success--a college degree. Seeking the key to unlock the forbidden doors in my Huntington Beach aerospace company, I discovered that there is no place for an over-educated secretary in a world of engineers and scientists. Thus abandoned by the company that supported and nurtured my ascent, I learned that what I considered a prized possession was, to others, merely a piece of paper.

To others like myself who aspire to greater heights, I offer these words--don't settle for less than success. The struggle toward achievement provides much more than the visible evidence that will decorate my wall. In my struggle came the invisible renewal and rebirth of pride and spirit. I thank my friends and family members who believed in me and unselfishly encouraged my growth, because after 21 years of hard work, I finally did it!

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