The orange skies in late August always seem to bring with it cleaner air, drifts of fall leaves within distance, a litter of red, orange and yellow, a new season and a new beginning. Before the fall of this years leaves will bring the arrival of new students, some with experience, most with none, but all eager to learn, motivated to make a life for themselves. It will be a challenge to say the least, one of homesickness, financial uncertainty and many will be presented with a list of reasons to quit because often times it will feel as if they are trying to conquer a gauntlet, an obstacle course just as dangerous as the recent mud run I read about. Maybe not that dangerous, actually not dangerous at all, just difficult, in which adversity will be one of the many elements conquered for those who succeed.
However, although difficult, the Educational component and classroom lessons should be appreciated in the moment, in which many friendships are born and different levels of thought from different cultures and backgrounds are shared and criticized, often giving the student an Education beyond the classroom, one learned about others, adding a trait of cultured to her resume. Meeting deadlines for essays or studying for exams, usually multiple in number at the same time, sometimes on the same day teaches her a valuable lesson in preparation, a lesson carried through her professional life and personal, which in hindsight, she will credit to her Education.
If I could give her some advice, I would advise that she study hard and play hard, the latter meaning that she enjoy herself and take advantage of all the programs her Educational institution has to offer or meet new people and the former in that, she is there to learn, a purpose that should not be forgotten. Although I repeat this often, but rightly so for its message, I would tell her that our Ancestors fought for our right to an Education when they negotiated and signed the treaties, casting upon us as their Descendants a duty to attain one. The wise words of my good friend Justice Murray Sinclair, a knowledgeable man whose advice always seemed to steer me in the right direction.
So, as the night falls and her spirits follow, I sit and think back about my journey and I recall my first year of University when I lost my brother to cancer, then my second year, having to care for a new born, pulling out my calculator at the end of each month to calculate how much I could spend on food, gas and diapers. Finally, in my last year of my studies, 8 years later, having to steal money from that same baby’s allowance jar just to make ends meet, funds that were replenished of course. A journey that was difficult, many who will begin theirs this year, some who may not succeed, all I hope do, as I wish them well and safety, but encourage them to look beyond the obstacles when life decides to show her bad sense of humor. I would encourage them to look to their role models, the many diploma and degree holders, the many successes and see that if one can do it, than most if not all can do the same.