My college career had a rocky start, my grandmother actually died the day I was supposed to go to college and get my dorm room. I still remember driving the short 30 miles a bit later in the day with tears running down my face. When the funeral happened a few days later, my brother and I both had to leave and go up and take care of registration. Back then, computers weren't that common and registration occurred on the floor of the football stadium that is called the "Kibbie Dome!" It was a mind blowing experience, especially for a freshman who had never seen anything like it. I was fortunate, I had my brother to guide me through and I survived the experience. During the next few years - I provided the same assistance to several freshmen as I never forgot the experience.
I was not the first or even the second to graduate from college in my family. My grandmother had graduated from the Lewis Clark Normal in 1932. When she went to school, her father butchered a hog to pay for tuition and she rode her horse to school. Her mother and she picked lettuce for three summers to save enough money to buy a piano so she could learn music - which would help her get hired as a teacher.
There was nothing so dramatic when my brother went to school. He had his own tribulations - but his graduation in 1986 was a triumph - and not just because of him. My grandfather had lived on his own after my grandmother had died. Looking back, he really shouldn't have been living on his own. Grandpa had numerous health problems and his days were involved with the various treatments of his blood disease and diabetes. Back in the early 1980's, Grandma Cappy and Grandpa Gwen donated a sum of money to the University of Idaho to provide a three scholarships for District #241. This was the school district where my Grandpa had been on the school board for 25 years and my Grandma had taught school at one of the elementary schools.
|Gwen Shearer & Capitola Friddle Shearer - My grandparents|
|My brother, Russell with my Grandpa Gwen Shearer, and mother Betty Johnson|
In many ways, I was like those scholarship students. My grandparents provided the money for me, my siblings and cousins to go to college without the worry of college loans. I saw a lot of friends who had a lot more of a struggle. While it was much cheaper back then, I realized that I had been very fortunate.
I don't enjoy being the center of attention - and I was incredibly nervous. I was sure that I would trip and fall in front of the entire crowd...so I didn't sleep that much. Neither did my one year old niece - she was teething and I remember her being just a bit too much like me in terms of being reluctant to go to sleep.
|My niece going up the stairs on the morning of my graduation. You couldn't keep her down!|
|After the ceremony - at home with the beautiful cake that my sister-in-law made.|
So, today I think about 25 years ago and going up to get my diploma and knowing that I had my family there to see it happen. I also think of how lucky I was to have grandparents who gave me, my siblings and cousins the opportunity for education. Since they set up that scholarship - about 90 students have graduated. That is quite a legacy for them to leave behind.