February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012 was my 41st birthday. I was unable to celebrate it on that day because I had an enormous amount or homework due that evening. However, I received some truly remarkable surprises from the most unexpected places. The first came to me as an email for Penn State University. At the end of last semester, I had noted, based on my overall GPA of 3.75, that I would be named on the Dean’s List—and then I had forgotten all about it. Until this email:


It is with absolute pleasure that we congratulate you for being named to the Fall 2011 Dean’s List for Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts! We know the sacrifices you and those close to you have endured to attain such an exceptional accomplishment.

This important achievement reflects your hard work, dedication, and motivation to succeed at Penn State, and you should have the utmost pride for all of your hard work. The rigor of online course work requires self-motivation and commitment while juggling other life events, which is not an easy feat. We share your pride in you earning this honor and encourage you to keep up the exceptional work!

Again, we extend our congratulations for being named to the Dean’s List and look forward to working with you as you continue to pursue your academic goals.

With best wishes always,

Academic Advising

Penn State World Campus

Now, I realize that for those who have been to college and those currently attending college who regularly receive this kind of notice, this may not be all that impressive. I, too, have received this email many, many times during the four years I spent at Portland Community College. To be more accurate, I received these notifications for 15 out of 17 terms. So, why is this one so special and notable? There are actually several reasons. One is that I did not start my education with the intention of earning anything beyond an Associate Degree (which I have earned two of), and I certainly did not expect to be accepted to this particular University, so having made the Dean’s List in my first semester, to me, and for me, is a great accomplishment.

The second, and more important reason, is that I do not look at this as how well I did or how smart I am, but rather a sense that I am more strongly and better prepared to achieve my ultimate goal. Graduating college is only one step of goal. From there, I intend to do a lot of research in regards to the LGBT community, focusing more on the internal aspects (self-acceptance, dealing with rejection/bullying) rather than the external aspects (rights of the community as a whole). I will also work on acquiring “hands-on” experience in a therapeutic setting. During this phase is where my true goal begins—helping others find self-worth, self-love, self-confidence, and to draw upon a deeper level of untapped inner strength. My dream is to open my own private practice. Accomplishing the level of achievement worthy of the Dean’s List, says to me, “Education is the foundation and yours is taking form with solidity and stability.” And that, my friends, is why this email is very notable.

Another surprise came to me in the mail in the form of a personal letter. I received this letter on the 15th, just a few short hours after receiving the email. My point is that this letter was mailed two days before I, myself, had been officially notified of this achievement. I have no idea how common something like this is or is not, but it means a great deal to me. So mush so , that now I want to share it with you:

Dear Cindy:

Congratulations! Earning a place on the Dean’s List is indeed a substantial achievement and you undoubtedly worked very hard in the fall semester of 2011. you and your family have every reason to be proud.

I wish you continued success in your scholastic endeavors at Pennsylvania Sate University and look forward to noting your future achievements.

If there is ever anyway I can be of assistance to you on state related matters, please do not hesitate to call me at my district office.

Very truly yours,



Mario Scavello

State Representative

176th Legislative District

I do not think this needs further elaboration as it clearly speaks for itself.

I was more than motivated to work hard on my studies and to complete my required assignments that day. The following day, my roommates prepared a wonderful broccoli-cheddar soup from scratch, made homemade biscuits, and baked my favorite cake for me—carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! So delicious and well worth the wait!


15 responses to “February 15, 2012

  1. Happy (belated) Birthday Cindy.

    And congratulations on making it to the Dean’s List – that is marvellous.

    I am not into sweet stuff but that image made me drool a little 🙂

    Luv and peace, Eric 🙂

  2. Congratulations!!! Happy Birthday!!! You have every right to be enormously proud of yourself and to deeply feel your accomplishments.

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