A shining moment for our student

Now that's a support system.

Now that’s a support system.

We gathered at Kelley’s 15 strong Wednesday night to break bread for Elisabeth, to show this amazing young woman how proud we all are of what she’s accomplished these past two years.

The food was good. The smiles were better. We were thrilled to then head down the road apiece to Onondaga Community College.

Gathering in the lobby of Storer Auditorium.

Gathering in the lobby of Storer Auditorium.

My terrific daughter and her lifelong friend, Meghan, took off first to get her to Storer Auditorium on time, so professors and students they selected for this special evening could hear instructions and line up in the lobby of the pretty campus building.

Elisabeth waved when we walked in some 10 minutes before the start time, and pointed us toward the theater.

I grabbed the program at the doors, and let the official name of the night sink in. Student Honors Ceremony. Inside 36 names were listed as recipients of Curriculum Honor Awards. One student per each taught at the very good community college in our county. And there it said, “Physical Therapist Assistant, A.A.S. Elisabeth Bialczak.”

Come on down.

Come on down.

The teachers led their students into the theater and the rows reserved for them. One by one, they went to the podium to tell all why each was special.

Kristen Lounsbery obviously cherished her time teaching Elisabeth, as I caught with this YouTube video with my iPhone 6.

I enjoyed listening to all the students’ stories. There were many who, like my daughter, went back to college after years in the workplace. Some, in fact, returned to the classroom after more than a decade of working. Others also had their bachelor’s degree yet went back for a career-specific associate’s. This is the way of our working world now, I thought.

Teaching moment.

Teaching moment.

Out in the lobby, another PTA prof, Cindy Warner, and the curriculum administrative assistant, Sheila Penn, also greeted our flock and posed for a photo for Elisabeth’s mom, Diane. I took it from the side.

They all smiled to meet the diverse group of folks supporting their student, as the names spilled out. Sister April, nephew Dillon, boyfriend George Three and his mom, Susan; stepmom Karen …

Me and my kid.

Me and my kid.

… and beaming dad Mark.

Way to go, Elisabeth. You did it.

What are you bragging about these days? Have you ever considered a career change, and if so, what did you do or would you have to do? What was your hardest class ever, and why?

38 thoughts on “A shining moment for our student

  1. Congratulations bro Mark. You have quite a remarkable daughter and your pride in her is so justified. I’m very impressed by your photo also — that’s a remarkable weight loss, and you are to be congratulated on that also. It takes loads of self control to do that, barring swallowing problems. Self control is much better as well as safer way to lose. I’m happy to say I gained 5 pounds and have held it for about three weeks now. Swallowing has improved with help from speech therapist, so some things are looking better.


  2. Wonderful! Congratulations to Susan and to all of you. Such a happy post. Made me smile. I’m still smiling. I wish I could find something more profound to say because that seems a bit lame… Heartfelt, nevertheless.


  3. That is so wonderful Mark. Please pass my congratulations along to Elizabeth. She looks so happy. It must have taken a lot of guts to do what she did. There are only a few public moments like that in a lifetime.

    Like Beth, I returned to grad school when I was 42. It was an executive program so I worked full time while attending classes full time weekends and evenings. After 2 years I had an MBA and my life changed considerably. The most difficult classes had to be finance, especially derivatives, stripped bonds, taking long and short positions, etc. One of the challenges of the MBA is the enormous amount of work that has to be done in a short time. There were stacks and stacks of books and reference material and it all had to be prioritized. One of the students couldn’t quite grasp a concept in finance and the prof agreed that the text was not clear on that point. The next class we all has another textbook on our desks that the prof promised would clear up the concept. I read so much and wrote so much that my reading increased to over 120 pages per hour. I didn’t watch any TV for years – no time. Part way through I needed a break for a few hours so I picked up the first fiction book I had touched for a year and a half. Later that morning I finished the book and when I closed it, I realized that I had just read a 500 page book in 3 1/2 hours. (It has since slipped back to about 50 pages per hour). It was a rush to say the least.

    All that said, the intellectual part of the MBA was the easiest. We were assigned work teams at the beginning and it was not possible to switch. You made it work or you quit the program (unless you were moving outside the range of your team and only then could you switch). Each team had between 5 and 6 members and were overseen by a psychologist and a specialist in team work in a management environment. The buggers did psych testing on all of us and assembled the teams by deliberately placing members of opposite types together to get a full perspective on each problem. Which leads to the problem. The emotional and interpersonal turmoil that this raised was skull breaking. We couldn’t agree on lunch let alone a 200 page thesis. I have never, in all my life, faced such a challenge. I would leave a 3 hour meeting wrung out like a dishrag. Our exploits were legendary amongst the teams and our advisers had files that were orders of magnitude thicker on our team than on any other. And yet, it worked. When we finished a project or assignment it was inevitably far better than any one of us could have produced alone. Quite astounding given the torture it took to produce it. Our team regularly topped the others in analysis and marks. And as fond as I grew of all the other team members, never was i so relieved as when we were done.

    Anyway, best wishes to your daughter Mark and I know you are a proud father.


  4. this is so wonderful and what a way to celebrate your daughter’s huge accomplishment. you are so right about the way people learn and grow these days, the path is rarely linear. as for me, i quit my job in advertising and went to grad school to become a teacher at age 40. my program was designed for those who had done other things in life and who now wanted a change. it was a small but close group, with a range of life experiences, but we were all there because we believed in the change and the move onward.


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