Friday, May 14, 2010

A Helluva, Helluva, Helluva, Helluva, Helluva Engineer

I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three hundred pounds,
The college bell to mix it in and clapper to stir it round.
Like every honest fellow, I take my whiskey clear,
I'm a rambling wreck from Golden Tech, a helluva engineer.

That is the beginning of the Colorado School of Mines school song. The school was founded in 1874 and is located in Golden. It is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It’s a relatively small school with about 3600 undergrads and 1000 grad students. The professors know their students and the students know their professors.

The students who are accepted are used to achieving high grades and meeting goals. The average ACT score of an entering freshman is 28 and most rank in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. The competition is fierce and the standards are high. It has the highest admissions standards of any public state university in Colorado.

It’s Graduation Eve and celebration time. The festivities start with a reception for the Petroleum Engineer graduates. It’s finger foods, cookies and cake. My daughter and youngest son don’t always get along. They have different ideas about things. But she did a very nice thing for him. She made and decorated about 96 cookies for his reception. They were beautiful and well received. A humorous thing, to us anyway, was the blue icing on the cookies. When someone ate a blue cookie their teeth and lips turned blue. It was pretty funny!

We had an amazing dinner, a gift from a special friend. It was the most magnificent sushi ever. I have to apologize for the quality of the pictures. The restaurant has dim lighting. But the presentation was outstanding! It was a generous and wonderful gift, a gift from the heart. Thank you Thang!

Friday morning is the morning of graduation! It is a clear day and the ceremony is outside. At first it was thought it might have to be moved indoors but the weather cooperated. There was a cool breeze but the sun was enough to keep everyone warm. I was a bit apprehensive when I found out there had been a 7:00 am happy hour for the graduates. DS is very social and won’t miss a free happy hour! We happened to sit on the right side, the side on which he walked up to the stage. We saw him on the way up and all was well. I breathed a sigh of relief. We also got to congratulate him on the way back. We were towards the back and it was hard to see him but the boy walked across the stage! It was bittersweet for me. He’s my baby.

Graduation means many things. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the reward for countless homework assignments and labs and many sleepless nights studying for the next test or celebrating the victory of a successful exam.

Graduation also brings many questions and uncertainties. What happens now? Where will I go? What will I do? The search for the perfect job leading to a fulfilling career is in full swing. The door is wide open but what is on the horizon? The prospects are as frightening as they are exciting.

Although the goal of graduation, the degree that is earned, is to get a perfect job, college isn’t only about gaining employment. The college experience, four years of hard work, is as much about growing up and maturing as it is about grades and passing. The experiences that are gained and the memories made will last a lifetime. College teaches you about life; how to figure out and solve new problems and confusing situations. The books you read and the experiments you perform give you the confidence and the skill to contribute to the world and make it a better place. The strangers you meet at the beginning of each year become some of your best friends.

While Mines ranks number one among Colorado state schools for starting salaries of graduates with a bachelor’s degree, there are no guarantees. The current economy makes the job market tough and competitive. Unemployment is on the rise. In April, the number of unemployed persons was 15.3 million, and the unemployment rate edged up to 9.9 percent. The rate had been 9.7 percent for the first three months of this year. (US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics) That isn’t the kind of news that a new graduate wants to hear.

Regardless, a college graduate still has the upper hand. Census data shows that the difference in earnings between a bachelor’s degree and a high school diploma is significant. Of course it depends on the occupation and geographic area, but usually a college graduate will make twice as much in their career as a high school graduate.

Graduation night we headed to downtown Denver for a celebration dinner for DS and his friends. He chose Maggiano’s. It’s an excellent Italian restaurant. We had a true feast. He chose the appetizers, entrees and dessert. There was so much food he took several doggie bags back home to his fraternity house and the boys ate well for a couple of meals!

The experience of the last four years is priceless. The academic and social skills gained contribute to the knowledge that DS will make it in the real world. He may not find the perfect job right away but he’ll find something. He’ll have the satisfaction that he’s learned far more than what is written on the piece of paper he received when he walked across the stage. He will make it in the real world. He’ll be a success. He’ll be a helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva engineer!

I am working on knitayear while in Colorado. I didn’t have a color I needed. If that happens I keep track of my mood and find a color later. I had to add this yarn when I got back. I felt proud of my son and what he’s accomplished. I chose a sort of magenta color for Thursday, day 43. It’s a rich color, and I know he’ll be successful in what he chooses. Maybe he’ll even be rich! Friday, graduation day, I chose a navy yarn. Mines colors are navy and silver. There are tiny specks of color in the navy yarn. These remind me of fireworks, because the colors are sprinkled throughout. It’s a very happy day for all of us. It seemed a fitting yarn. I know that DS will carry the college experience with him forever. He’ll never forget the M climbs or E-days. He’s an Oredigger, a graduate.

The Miner’s “M”, a symbol of a brand of mining men,
Whose courage knocks the mountains down and builds them up again,
No matter in this paydirt world orediggers choose to roam,
Mines is always with them, The “M” still stands for home.

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