I am embarrassed by my degree. Not my major, nor my university, but the date on it. I’m embarrassed by it, partly, because very few people, previously to this post, knew about the secret of the date printed on it.
Earlier this week, I was picking up my Texas Exes Life Membership packet which reminded me of all of this. One of the pieces of Life Membership includes a beautiful Life Member certificate. “The Alumni Association of The University of Texas at Austin… This hereby certifies Brandon Joseph Kraft, BA Sociology ’10 as a champion of the University and as life member…” 2010.
I started college in 2002. It was a bit rocky. Much of it was self-induced between an ungodly level of unmerited self-confidence and cockiness mixed in with finally dealing with the emotional burden of my father’s death. In truth, I am probably a good example of someone who should have done something for a couple of years before starting school.
I took on a full-time job and overcommitted in various organizations. Finally, after five years, I “graduated”. I walked the stage, I did the dog and pony show. At UT-Austin, you can walk the stage when you’re within a certain number of hours of graduation. I only lacked the must-take Sociological Theory and four semesters of foreign language. Four semesters.
A long story made short, my self-confidence continued as I tried various self-study, technologically-fancy methods trying to knock out 16 credit hours of Spanish, which only netted me 5 hours, until I finally accepted that I need to do it in a traditional way. By this point, I had already left my full-time job of five years for another one, but managed to fit in 11 credit hours of Spanish within two semesters at the local Austin Community College.
After another semester passed for the paperwork to get processed, since another semester is meaningless at this point, The University awarded my degree on August 16, 2010.
The fact that I shy away from the date, trying to make up for it. “I started school in 2002” or “I finished full-time coursework in 2007”. I’m embarrassed by it. I took longer than Tommy Boy.
Looking at the Life Member certificate though reminds me that I can’t be ashamed of not fitting into the typical progression. BA ’10 will be next to my name anytime I’m mentioned by the Exes. And that’s okay. Part of being okay with it is dropping any pretense with anyone that I was academically excellent in college, thus this public statement.
At the end of the day, I graduated from one of the best universities in the world dropped in ranking since then; it was high during the majority of my time truly on campus, regardless of degree, incredibly enjoy my work, and am overjoyed with my family. Now that it is over, it doesn’t matter if I complete a degree in two years or ten years.
Brandon Kraft, BA ’10.