Why I Danced on the Stage for My Law School Diploma

…and you should too. 

Let me tell you a story about a young man that grew up with everything he ever needed, not necessarily everything he ever wanted. He took advantage of all the generous teachers providing their patience, professional lives, and talents to a student population that was often times apathetic, or worse, just plain rude. He was never the caliber athlete that would have scholarships thrown upon him but he competed and played football, basketball, and ran track from midget league to varsity.

When he was provided erroneous high school curriculum direction from an inept guidance counselor he modified the change after one semester and made better grades to make up for the loss in GPA. He dealt with and experienced, the insecurity in being a young adult, young love, and down right ignorant decision making processes that were often times done multiple times before the lesson was learned. 

Life threw him curve balls, sometimes never experienced by others, although impacting way too many. He hit rock bottom several times mentally, physically, and emotionally with the roll-a-coaster ride that comes with the certainty of life and that is death. But through it all he completed the accomplishments that come through hard work, perseverance, luck, and prayer. 

Undergraduate studies were largely funded by the state of South Carolina through various scholarships and the remainder through hard working parents and summer jobs. After a little over a year in the professional setting at various non-profit entities and then a stint in Mexico teaching English as a foreign language, he sought further education through a law degree. 

He was accepted to several schools, none of them being affordable, and went head first into the abyss of student loans. He was taught how to think within legal parameters, told when to attend class, and surrounded by hundreds of strangers in which only a handful of real friends would exist. When an opportunity arose to study international law through another school’s summer program he was denied that opportunity, strictly based on financial reasons. (Money to another school for tuition meant no money for his current school). 

After facing the death of his mother at the beginning of the second year of law school he reached out to the readily available medicinal values of alcohol. Fortunately law school courses only have one exam per class, per semester so he was easily able to rise to the occasion when it mattered. The rest of the time was filled with a glass half empty perspective and cynical nomenclature of those more “enlightened” through higher education. 

By the time graduation rolled around he was beginning to see the dense clouds and fog clear on the horizon and thought the worse may actually be close to over. That was until graduation gowns and “caps” were selected, boldly reflecting the pious and pretentious enigma of a law school graduate. This was the last straw and a purging of the experience could only have been done by pulling this scholarly hood ornament down far upon his face like a toboggan. Then when it was his turn to politely, professionally, and with the honor of a highly educated individual walk across the stage to receive his diploma…he danced. 

 After Incurring over $150,000.00 in student loans only to receive a degree that merely allowed him to take a three day exam before he could call himself a professional he studied three years to become; after inquiring with administrators why attendance had to be kept since he was paying them a handsome yearly sum to teach him;  after being denied international educational experiences for which he qualified; after loving to write but not being a good legal writer, and after some tumultuous ups and downs through those three years, he entered the stage in a city that bore the “Allman Brothers” feeling the need to let his soulshine so he danced, jumped, and gave shout outs to his family.

You, high school, technical school, college, graduate school, and/or doctorate degree graduates should dance upon the stage, too. Remember the past remains behind you unless you allow it to overcome you in the present.  The present is all you have to enjoy for today but use it wisely as it determines your future. Always remember to dance regardless of your stage. 

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