On June 14, 2012 I graduated from Highline Community College with a Paralegal Plus certificate. This makes the 5th degree or certificate I've earned since I last walked to Pomp and Circumstance at my high school graduation 39 years ago!
As I sat and listened to the speakers, I began thinking about those other degrees and certificates, and wondering how easy (or difficult) it will be for my descendants to find those records. Since I was enumerated in the 1970 census in Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida, they will probably figure out that I graduated from high school there about 1973. And, since my children know that I obtained my Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida State University, that information may be handed down orally. But if my descendants look in the 1978 or 1979 FSU records, they won't find me - I actually obtained both degrees only 4 years after graduating from high school, having obtained a year's college credit by taking the CLEP test before I finished high school.
And they probably won't realize that I attended two different community colleges here in Washington - Bellevue Community College (now Bellevue College) in 2003, and Highline Community College in 2011 and 2012.
In thinking about my history of lifelong learning, I started remembering several of my ancestors who attended college in Michigan, and where the records of their education might be.
My paternal grandmother Ruby Marie Chase graduated from Bear Lake (MI) High School in 1912, with a graduating class of 10 students. (My graduating class in 1973 was over 600!) Ruby and her sister Myrl both attended Michigan State Normal College, where Ruby graduated in 1916. This college was originally founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School, and became Michigan State Normal College in 1899, was renamed to Michigan State College, and then to Eastern Michigan University in 1959.
After graduating, Ruby Chase became a teacher, like most of her classmates, and taught school in Illinois before marrying my grandfather Maurice L. Reed in 1918.
My grandfather Maurice Leonard Reed went to school at Benzonia Academy in Benzie County, Michigan, which is where he met my grandmother Ruby. He graduated in 1912 and when World War 1 began enlisted in the US Army. Although he did not pursue a career in teaching, education was important to him. He worked for decades as a truant officer for the Lansing Public Schools, and after he was retired taught himself Spanish, just because he loved the language.
My maternal grandmother Ervilla Varran (who was actually my mother's stepmother, but she was my Grandma Stoelt, and that's all that mattered) also went to college to become a teacher, and worked as a teacher for the Detroit Public Schools until she retired in the 1960's. In writing this blog, I realize that I don't know where she went to college, when she graduated, or when she retired. Finding that information will help complete my picture of her as a person.
And going back further, Maurice Reed's father Percy Adelbert Reed finished high school in the little town of Fennville, Michigan, and then got his Teacher's Certificate in Allegan. He taught school in several small towns in southwestern Michigan before giving up teaching to become a store clerk, eventually owning a shoe store in Beulah.
And in our family, the tradition of higher education continues. My daughter Stacy graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Spanish in June 2010, and she is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Romance Languages department of the University of Oregon in Eugene. She loves language, learning and teaching.
Like all genealogists must be in order to be successful, I am a life-long learner. And I have my ancestors to thank for their example!