Subject: Staying With a Dream
Date: For the Week of June 10, 2002
Congratulations to all the graduates of the Class of 2002 -- whether high
school, undergraduate, or graduate/professional school. I will confess,
however, that I am especially touched by those people who have set noble
educational goals, had their objectives delayed, and then returned to carry
through on them.
One person whose story I read in the Los Angeles Times on a day I was
visiting there recently jumped out and grabbed me. This particular fellow had
enrolled at Cal State Long Beach 37 years ago -- only to leave three years
later, just shy of having his B.A. finished. So 34 years after dropping out and
37 years after enrolling, he was sitting among some 500 graduates and finally
received his degree in film/video production.
Yes, he had to take time out of an adult life and established career to rejoin
the ranks of lowly college undergraduates. Yes, he had to write reports and
term papers. Yes, he had to take exams during his final two semesters.
He had contacted the university about 18 months earlier about the possibility
of completing his degree. It really wasn't a career-enhancing or financial
thing. There appear to have been three motivations driving the 55-year-old
First, he wanted to honor his parents and their dreams for him. "I wanted to
accomplish this for many years as a thank you to my parents for giving me
the opportunity for an education and a career," he said.
Second, he hoped his carry-through on an unfinished task would say
something to his children. He spoke of it as "a personal note for my own
family" on "the importance of achieving their college education goals."
Third, the theme of making good on his own expectations of himself seemed
to run through the effort. I really like that! Too many of us have abandoned
educational, career, or personal spiritual goals because of detours along the
way -- only to feel a bit empty, if not terribly guilty, about not picking them up
I wish I could have been there for his walk across the stage in a $40 rented
cap and gown. At one level, it must have been a humbling thing for him. You
see, he already has three Oscars and several Emmys, Golden Globes, and
lifetime achievement awards in filmmaking. He's even got five honorary
doctorates -- the most recent one from Yale about two weeks before his Cal
State Long Beach graduation.
At another level, though, it must have been one of the proudest moments in
his life. He finished a worthwhile task. He achieved a goal set years before.
He got the satisfaction of finishing what he had started.
Congratulations, Steven Spielberg! And thanks for the wonderful example.
Congratulations Steven Spielberg