50 Years Later
Our oldest grandchild, Eddie Parma, just graduated from Auburn University. He now starts on his Doctorate Degree in the area of clinical psychology and Christian counseling. We are so proud of him.
His graduation was held at 8:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. The program really moved quickly. It was well organized. Each graduate walked across the stage as their name was announced. The person who I think had the toughest job was the person who had to read and pronounce one thousand names correctly. He should get some kind of doctorate degree to be able to pronounce correctly that many names.
As people were crossing the stage, all of a sudden, the man read the name of one person and the whole arena erupted in applause. People graduating stood up and started applauding. I thought maybe some great athlete or important politician was receiving the applause. I looked closely and noticed it was an African American lady who was definitely older than any other graduate.
Her name is Sherry Potts, and she was receiving a degree in political science. She started at Auburn fifty years ago, but due to tough circumstances dropped out.
She retired in 2012 and began taking care of her mother. When her mother died, it occurred to her that she was the last living of six siblings, and no one had graduated from college. That’s when she decided that she could change her legacy. At age 78, she received notice that she was being readmitted to Auburn.
I love her attitude. Oftentimes, we think that something ought to be done, but we wait for somebody else to do it. Sherry didn’t wait for somebody else—she acted. How many times do we suggest that somebody else ought to do something or pray that somebody would act in a certain situation when it really ought to be us that takes the action. Sherry did it.
It took fifty years to accomplish her goal, but she did! She often said that the toughest part of all of it was using modern technology. She acknowledged that a lot of students helped her navigate some of the technological challenges. She gave a lot of credit to her advisor, April Foti. Sherry is considering getting a master’s degree! I told my grandson, Eddie, not to let her get her doctorate degree before he does!
It was a great honor to see Eddie graduate. The second-best thing was seeing Sherry walk across the stage and hundreds of students and faculty applaud her. Fifty years—but she saw her dream come true!
Maybe there is something in life that you want to accomplish. Maybe there is some place in life where you quit. Maybe there is something that you think somebody ought to do something about and you are the one who can do it. Only you are in charge of creating your legacy!
I realized that a long graduation exercise could be inspiring. I’ve got some unfinished goals to which I need to become more disciplined. I have a lot of work to do on my legacy. I am reminded that graduation is not a final goal that is reached, but a goal that begins to shape the beginning of what that graduation can mean in the future. Read II Timothy 4:7,8; Acts 20:24.
It’s graduation time!