52 Ancestors 2015: #22 Commencement

Week 22 (May 28 – June 3) – Commencement: Countless schools will be having their
commencement ceremonies around this time. Think not only about school, but also about
commencement meaning “a beginning.”

I was raised with the litany “when you go to college…” because when my folks were growing up, a college degree was the ticket to success. Unfortunately, it is not so much that now.

My father was the first one of his siblings to graduate with a college degree. He worked seven years, going to school, working full time, raising a family and a part of the U.S. Naval Reserves.  I don’t even know if any of his other siblings earned a college degree. He graduated from Eastern Nazarene College in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.  I was seven years old.

Charles S. Eldridge Yearbook photo 1970 ENC Nautilus

Charles S. Eldridge Yearbook photo 1970 ENC Nautilus

I was the first grandchild on both sides to graduate with a college degree – my Associates in Applied Science in 1990 from Newbury College. Grampa Les (Lester Eldredge) came from California to attend my graduation with my parents.  I have since gone on to get a Bachelors in Business Administration and two Master’s degrees. My brother got a Bachelors and Master’s degree as well and just this past weekend, my cousin Edward got his Bachelors in Engineering. Other cousins have gone on and gained degrees as well, on both sides. It is more common now for people to have college degrees, but when my Dad was getting his – it was not so common.

I was so proud to have my folks watch me walk across that stage to accept my Masters in Strategic Intelligence degree from American Military University on my 47th birthday in 2010. It was the look on my Dad’s face that meant more than anything to me, that day. He knew how hard I’d worked – because he’d worked hard for his degree too. He hugged me and whispered. “Grampa Les would be proud. I know I am.”



About T.K. Eldridge

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2 Responses to 52 Ancestors 2015: #22 Commencement

  1. Kessa, thank you for sharing this story about my best fried, your Dad. I know how proud he was of you.

  2. Joanne Barnard says:

    That’s a lovely story, Kessa. It’s too bad that, as you say, education may no longer be the key to success that it once was, but a degree still shows a lot of perseverance and hard work and often does lead to a much more interesting career than one might otherwise have. Congratulations to you and thanks for sharing your story.

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