With Great Distinction

My daughter sat hunch over on a bar stool, and her eyes were glued to her MacBook sitting on top of our kitchen center island. She was watching her university’s President give the ceremonial address on-line. At the end of his speech he conferred to all the graduates, who were watching at their homes, their respective batchelor, master, and doctorate degrees.

It was sad that the commencement ceremony end up in this manner. No marching of the students with their cap and gown on a large auditorium. No roll calls announcing the names as they receive their honor and diploma. No adoring family and friends applauding as their graduate walk up the stage.

The ceremony culminating the hard fought four years of college was a letdown, and I felt sorry for my daughter that her graduation rites came to be this way. Damn this corona virus pandemic!

I certainly know the awful feeling of not being able to march for your graduation, for I myself was denied of that opportunty when I finished my medical school. Though the circumstances in mine was totally different and I have only myself to blame. The memory is still painful up to this day, but that’s a different topic for another day.

However, despite the bittersweet turn of events, there is a momentous achievement that cannot be denied.

Seventeen years ago when our daughter started her formal schooling, we had serious fear. This is a girl who did not speak until she was past the age of four that we even consulted a speech pathologist. When she was about to be a kindergarten, she only speaks in words and sometimes phrases, but not sentences. It’s not that she’s unintelligent, at least that was what we want to believe, she was just different.

We knew that if we enrol her to a conventional school she would be labeled by her teachers, and most likely be bullied by her classmates. But most of all we were worried that she may not develop into the fullest potential that we know she is capable of. That was when we decided to homeschool her. And it was one of the best decisions we ever did.

I commend my wife who did the heavy lifting in homeschooling our kids. I know that there were days that it was a struggle. Yet we pressed on. We were always looking for ways to tap their strengths and fortify their weaknesses, especially in our daughter, hoping to unlock her abilities. But more importantly, we asked for heaven’s guidance in all our undertaking.

Math came easy for her, but language and communication was her Waterloo, and constructing even a 2 or 3 sentence essay was a difficult endeavor. Thus we chose a curriculum that was literature heavy and had them read 20 to 30 short story books or classic novels per school year. One bright thing that happened was when we introduced her to music, it became her language and she found her voice.

We homeschooled her until highschool. Besides the education we had at home we also used tutors to prepare her for college. This included lots of music activities as well. And as she entered college, we were again uncertain of how she would adapt to conventional school. Did we educate her enough? Did we train her enough? Did we equip her enough?

Four years of college had gone by. It went so fast like a blink of an eye. Our daughter did not just survived college, she thrived in it. She got scholarship and maintained it throughout. We were relieved and we felt vindicated.

For any of you my readers, who have a child or know of a child who may be struggling in school, I want you to continue to believe in them. I am convinced that there are no dumb kids. They only have different and individual ways of learning, and we as parents and educators just need to discover their potential. Invest in them, including your time, and if you need to take over their education, then do so.

On this occasion of epic magnitude, our joy is magnified. With magnificent pride and with magnanimous love, we present to the world our 2020 graduate. And she even did it with a Latin honor of Magna Cum Laude.

our graduate

We thank all our family and friends who supported us through this journey, and to God be the glory!

(*She missed Summa Cum Laude by a very slim fraction. But we are not complaining. Magna Cum Laude translates as “with great distinction.”)

A 2020 Vision

(I was asked to contribute a page for a high school students’ yearbook. My son was one of the co-editors. Their theme was Vision 2020. Here’s the message I wrote.)

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Vision is a precious gift from God. It is one of our senses that we use to interact with the outside world. With our vision we can see a cloudless summer sky, the intricate details of a flower, the changing colors of the autumn leaves, and so much more.

The term 20/20 vision means that one can see a specifically sized target at a distance of 20 feet. 20/100 vision means one can only see the target at 20 feet what another person with 20/20 vision can see at 100 feet. The bigger the bottom number, like 20/200, the poorer the vision.

So important is vision that if we are deprived of this faculty it is considered a disability. But there is a graver condition than having no sight. According to Helen Keller, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” What an interesting insight from a blind person.

Vision is not just the state of being able to see, but it is the ability to think about and wisely plan for the future with imagination, optimism, and most of all faith to the One who holds our tomorrow. I believe that this is a far more important gift we are given. 

To the graduating class of 2020, we extend to you our sincerest congratulations.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

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Post Note:

Who could have envisioned that the year 2020 will be this unsettling? And we are only a quarter through it. I feel sad for senior students, including my daughter who is supposed to graduate from college next month. She still would graduate, but there will be no commencement ceremonies due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With or without graduation ceremony, should not lessen the momentousness of their accomplishments.

(*The photo above was from a few years back, taken at Nevada’s Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, a perfect place for social and physical distancing.)