As an English major/Spanish minor at the University of Georgia, I can say that for every time I stayed up late to finish a paper or research Faulkner’s stream of consciousness writing technique, there were just as many days when I sat under an oak tree discussing Shakespeare or attended a play in order to write a review for the paper; in other words, I remember those days as being pleasantly ensconced among writers and poets and totally devoid of undue stress.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself comparing my college experience with Nicholas’ as he pursues an engineering degree from Clemson University. Here’s what I’ve discovered: engineering is not for wimps and, most definitely, doesn’t include Shakespeare. For Nicholas, the past four years meant many late nights at the library, or marathon study sessions with friends, or working on group design projects. The past four years meant engineering internships every summer and during two Christmas breaks, and then afterwards sitting down with Joe and discussing what he could financially contribute to his tuition.
He’s a hard worker, is our son.
This is not to say that the past few years haven’t been fun. He will graduate this June with many wonderful memories: the weekend trips to the beach or to Athens, GA to visit friends, the traditional bar crawl when he turned 21, the trivia contests at the pub and, of course, those Clemson football games and watching (on his birthday no less!) the Clemson Tigers win the National Championship. So he definitely had fun, but never at the expense of his studies.
And now here we are, his senior year. This past fall, in the midst of working on a senior design project and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he diligently submitted resumes and interviewed at job fairs on campus. Then, between homework assignments, oral presentations and a hectic exam schedule, he had a few follow-up interviews which not only involved driving to Augusta (once) and Charlotte (twice), but also flying out to Denver, CO where he had his first “white board” interview which involved using the board to solve problems given to him during the interview. Right there, on the spot.
I broke out in a sweat just hearing about it.
He never wore a suit as often as he did this past semester, and he never called home as much as he did during those days before and after each interview. There were many things to consider, plan, and discuss: he could see himself working in Charlotte, he liked the people he would be working with in Augusta, and he really, really liked the company in Colorado. Also, he wondered in one phone call, would it be okay to fold his suit in a small carry-on?
By December he received two job offers, and earlier this month he signed a contract with the company out in Denver, Colorado. We couldn’t be more excited for him. This May he will find out where he will be located (we're hoping Nashville, TN, or it could be Washington D.C. or even Salt Lake City, Utah) and in June he will begin work after a two week training session at their headquarters in Denver. And so far the company has been very good to him. A week after signing with them Nicholas received a beautiful, high end laptop backpack in the mail with a personal note welcoming him to the company and, just this past week, company recruiters visiting campus took him and a few students out to dinner.
As parents, nothing is more gratifying then seeing our son make his way in the world, and we are excited these doors of opportunity are being opened to him. I have always referred to Nicholas as my “Renaissance Man” because his interests and talents are so varied: he’s very good at engineering and math, but he is also a voracious reader; he plays the guitar, follows politics and world affairs, goes to church every Sunday, and is teaching himself how to paint; he is presently taking a basic law class because he thought it would be interesting; and he’s very witty and adored by his baby brother.
It’s the bittersweet truth that children grow up in a heartbeat, and I could never have imagined, all those years ago when I sat under the oak tree discussing Shakespeare, that I would one day have a son who is poised to go off into the world as a young man. It’s exciting, gratifying, heartwarming.
It’s incredibly humbling.