As I blogged several months ago, more than twenty years have passed since I first entered college expecting to get a Computer Science degree. I went astray and looked to get a business degree. At the time, the MBAs (Masters in Business Administration) seemed like the thing to get. Unfortunately, it was not the thing I was meant to get.
Not that there is anything wrong with business degrees; I just know now that I have a passion for the machines that I can’t ignore. About four and a half years ago, I realized that I wanted to return to my youthful passion. Then, in the fall of 2000, I practically stumbled across the Computer Software Engineering Technology (CSET) program at Portland Community College (PCC).
One of the issues I had with the typical Computer Science degree was the focus on history and theory. I know a great deal of the history and, although I enjoy the theory aspects, I want to apply it to problems right away. The CSET curricula did this. As I approached the end of the two-year degree at PCC, I visited the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT). Here, I could continue my studies and receive my bachelors degree in Software Engineering.
Graduation was last week.
What a journey this has been. I find it amazing all that I have learned in the past three and a half years and can now see how much I have yet to learn. I’ve heard it suggested that it is harder to learn as one grows older… I don’t agree with that anymore. There are two factors that affect a person’s ability to learn later: It takes some practice to get into the swing of things. Compartmentalizing information from different classes and being able to switch amongst them is a skill that becomes rusty over time. However, it does come back to you.
The second thing is sleep. It was easier to go without it twenty years ago and that doesn’t change.
A great number of people have helped me get here. First, the instructor I had more than any other was Taylor Hanna at PCC. Not only did Taylor provide a great deal of knowledge to us students, he drove us, too. There were some who thought Taylor was not very easy – they were right. However, as I’ve continued through my classes, I’ve been constantly reminded of how much I learned in Taylor’s classes.
There are many instructors that helped me on this trip. Al, Ali, Barbara, Brad, Christian, Colin, Gary, Jay, Jeff, Julianne, Michael, Paul, Paula, RK, Ronda, Sean, Sergey, Shawn, Stefan, Terry, Vicki, and others, thank you for all you have passed on to me.
In addition, there are numerous other people at the schools that helped make my degree possible. My thanks go out to Abbie, Anne, Cheryl, Fran, Mary Lou, Peter, Sandy, Sylvia, and all of the other people who made it possible to go through these four years with some sanity preserved.
I had a chance to meet and work with many great people over this time, too. There have been many teams and tutor-ings that helped me get here. In particular, I want to thank:
Cat Anderson – You’re such a great pair-programming partner. Our family has really enjoyed getting together with yours over the years, too.
Mike Plourde – You’ve been a really good friend and we’ve had a great journey over the last years, haven’t we?
Jeff Sherwin – My goodness you know a lot! Your appreciation of good pizza is a testament to the quality of your character.
There are others too numerous to get to, but let me try:
Anita, Casey, Chris, Colin, Daniela, David, Earnest, Eric, Frank, Fred, Hope, Jamin, Janet, Jasen, Justin, Katy, Kim, Lael, Larry, Matt, Paul, Pat, Rhollic, Robert, Steve, Tess – Thank all of you for your help, support, and assistance throughout these years.
Another individual that helped me a great deal as a fellow student, instructor, and mentor is Scott Hanselman. First, Scott has been involved with the promotion of the programs at both PCC and OIT since before I started going through them. Second, after graduating last year from OIT, he immediately returned to teach an excellent class on programming in C#. Finally, on a personal level, he has become a mentor to me and helped me immensely in getting through my senior project.
Finally, I want to thank my family for there examples, support, enthusiasm, and love. You might think that taking over twenty years to get a degree would dampen the enthusiasm of the family… not mine. Even my siblings’ kids were excited and some even attended the graduation. Thanks all of you!
My mom didn’t get to stay around long enough to attend my graduation in person, but I knew she was there when I got up for my speaking portion and didn’t have any butterflies in my stomach. I know I wasn’t a perfect son, but my mom and dad always stood by me and made sure I turned out right. Thanks to both of them for all they did for me.
Last, but most, I want to thank my wife Jesann for her love and support through these years. Our household has a fraction of the income we did before I went back to school and I have spent way too much time staring at a monitor instead of helping her around the house. She’s been an inspiration to me and truly made it possible for me to get through this degree. Without you, honey, I wouldn’t have done this. Thank you and I love you.