Friday, June 13, 2014

Bursting with Pride

A hug for the graduate. (And when did I get so short?)
I am so flipping proud of this girl that I can hardly write this without tears coming to my eyes. Today, our daughter Katie received her B.A. in English Literature (and a minor in Spanish), with High Distinction, from Carleton University. That alone is cause for celebration and pride, but what really impresses me is how hard Katie has struggled to reach this milestone.

Katie in the apartment she shared with her cousin Pierre in 2005-2006
When we moved to Colorado in 2005, Katie stayed behind for her final year of high school. It was a horribly rough year for her -- she was homesick, lonely, overwhelmed. I got calls from her when she was sobbing in the school bathroom unable to go to class. She barely graduated with a grade high enough to keep the admission she'd been offered in university -- and only with much last-mile intervention from Steve's sister who lives in Ottawa.

Katie in the prom dress that she designed,
and which I sewed and beaded.
But graduate she did, and then went to Toronto to study at OCAD University - a prestigious art and design school. That is where she crashed and burned. I don't know the full story, but I know she failed every course and that, when she came home for the summer, she was full of anxiety and really yearned to be back in Ottawa with her friends. It was heartbreaking to see her in such pain.

This picture is a self-portrait done on her scanner-printer.
It is so evocative of her mood that year.
So she moved back to Ottawa and got an apartment with a friend. For three years she worked at various retail jobs, paid her rent, bought her own groceries, and basically grew up.

After the rest of us moved back to Ottawa in 2010, Katie was finally ready to give university another shot. She was accepted as a probationary student and took a single course. She worked her butt off and aced that course -- and most of her courses since then. She won scholarships. She also worked part-time for most of those semesters.

I'm especially proud of how she advocated for herself. She worked with the student counselling and health services to document her anxiety disorder and have minor accommodations made. (There were times when she was so paralyzed by anxiety that, even standing outside the classroom, she could not open the door. In classes where attendance was part of the grade, this penalized her.)

Katie with her love.
And she fell in love with someone who really helped her become strong. She faced her health issues (food intolerances), started eating healthier food and going to the gym.

She was happy.
Katie and her friend Sarah, who graduated with her Master's degree.
So, while a bachelor's degree may not be an Olympic medal or an Academy Award, it is a stellar achievement for my beautiful, beautiful girl, and represents what a long way she has come.

She is strong. She is smart. She is kind. She has always been those things, but I think she is finally coming to believe them. And we could not be more proud of her.

Part of the proud family.


  1. Congrats to Katie! My eyes are brimming with tears just reading this. So happy for her!

    1. Thanks, Diane. We're excited to see where she goes next!

  2. Thanks, Diane! Thank you, Mummy!

  3. Congrats to her!! I also have a BA in English Literature, so I know that it is actually a tough course schedule. So.Much.Reading. And I worked part time while I studied too. I know all that helped me prepare for the "real world" out there. Best luck to her in the future!


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