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It's graduation weekend

My relationship with college has always been complicated. And it doesn't get any easier today, but my emotions are different.

I came to ASU in the summer of 1989. Reluctantly. I had never considered ASU. It was too close to home, it was a party school, it was in the desert. None of those things appealed to me. And yet, here I was. On most days, I made the best of it and on the hardest days I stayed in my dorm room hiding away from my new reality. Eventually, I found my place and my college within the university. I loved my major and my professors. I graduated, kind of. (But that is a story for another day.)

In the years that followed when I would mention my university, I would be a bit embarrassed by the party school title that hung around its neck. We did party, we did have fun, but there was serious work going on. Serious degrees, serious research. How do I know? Because the people that did that work are still here. Two of my actual professors, the ones that I sat in class with, the ones in the child development lab, the ones that read my papers about gender inequality are still here doing the work and even creating a new institute, The T. Denny Sanford Harmony Institute.

I learned something about the party school title, we, and by we, I mean ASU, sought that title just like we have sought out Innovation in the last decade. If anything is true about ASU, if there is a list, we want to be on top of it. If there is something new, you will find it here. The innovation is for real, so is the inclusivity and yes, the ability to have a grand time.

With all that said, college is still a strange concept. Of course you will go, of course you will incur debt, of course you will find your way and your people, but sometimes you won't, sometimes you don't. ASU and I would venture a guess, most universities, do feel a little bit like a Dr. Seuss life. Large buildings, a cast of characters, always something to do, always something to see.

Since I graduated from ASU, we have sent two sons and my husband to the digital and real hallways of ASU, and while it is not perfect, we are all proud Sun Devils.

Today is the start of the graduation celebrations for my husband. We will go to the Veterans Stole Ceremony at Gammage today and hear from retired military and a Tillman Scholar, he will be recognized for both his service and his dedication to getting a degree. There will be no talk today about the limitations of ASU. None. And I won't be the place they begin. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we will again.

Today is about his service. 21 years. And then a degree.

Tim's road to college was typical. He started at 18 and then stopped. He found more value in a job and career than paying money for classes. And while he has had an incredible career with time at Eddie Bauer, T-Mobile and Starbucks, a PNW trifecta, the lack of a degree hung over his head. Like we talked about last night, he started taking classes again a couple of different times, once when we had a newborn, once in Iraq and it didn't stick until Starbucks offered degrees FOR FREE through ASU. It was a sign. Tim, would become a Sun Devil, too.

And now he is done. Today, the Veteran's celebration, tomorrow and Monday a little SCAP (Starbucks College Achievement Program) fun. He's nervous he'll be the oldest in the room. His dad is here and so is my mom so I covered off on that--they are older! Monday night he will sit at Sun Devil Stadium and listen to a speaker talk about goals and the future, the target audience being 22 year olds. But he will never sit in Sun Devil stadium again without remembering the moment that, he too, became a graduate of this innovation and dare I say, fun, university.

Oh, and he's graduating with straight As. A degree in Public Policy that he may or may not ever use. A degree he could teach. Today, I won't talk about the limitations of online school or how the systems could be improved, I won't mention that we have had two others enrolled and if you really wanted to improve the experience for all learners you could sit us down and learn for a minute, I won't even mention that we don't have an athletic director right now. Ok, I know I just talked about it for a little bit but it is only because I love it here so much now that I really want to see it improve. But not today, I'll smile and say hello to Dr. Crow and be grateful, because I am.

AND, we will celebrate. An actual celebration of 21 years of service, deployments to Iraq, New Orleans, fires in Washington and even a whale hunt in Neah Bay, today is about being a father to boys, serving your country and while being #thecutehusband and working full time, Tim was able to dedicate the time to graduate, Summa cum laude, from our university. Our imperfect university that produces highly competitive, inspiring, world changing humans.

I am forever grateful to Starbucks and ASU for forming the program to allow Starbucks partners to achieve their degrees. It has been a joy to see my husband acquire something he thought was out of reach. I'm beyond happy that we get to share the maroon and gold.

This week we celebrate and then we get back to work. Here's to making the world and ASU just a bit better each and every day! Congratulations, Timmy.

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