My sweet, sweet Jamie (the youngest of my three children) graduated from college this weekend. With highest honors at that: Summa Cum Laude. As you can well imagine… I’m bursting at the seams. 🙂
Jamie is truly a special person, with quite a few accomplishments under her belt at a very young age. You wouldn’t suspect it from such a sweet person, but she’s made of steel. And has been willing (and capable) of thinking and acting outside the box on many an occasion.
At age thirteen, Jamie decided to become a volunteer, working for several years in her free time as a tutor at an after-school center for children with learning disabilities. Always a good student, on top of her school work and volunteer activities, she found time to indulge in another passion: writing. Jamie’s dream was to be published by age 15. Until then she had participated and won many writing contests. And she was precisely 15 when she participated in her first adult writing contest, placing in third place. As a consequence, she was to see that dream realized, with a children’s book published under her name. That very same year she realized she was pretty much done with high school, and decided to leave early, to enroll in a pretty demanding two-year course in creative writing. I can tell you it is pretty challenging for a 16 year-old to develop the kind of discipline needed to work on one’s own, often feeling isolated, without the benefit of a group of peers.
By the time her high school classmates were graduating, Jamie had finished her writing course and was focusing on studying to obtain her high-school diploma on her own. That was a tough year, as we first lost my brother David to leukemia, and then had to walk with my mother as she faced some serious health problems that involved several prolonged hospitalizations. Jamie rose to all these challenges, showing a deep sense of solidarity and commitment as she accepted many responsibilities beyond her years.
Once things in the family started to calm down a bit, Jamie was able to focus again on her studies. In spite (or perhaps because) or her unorthodox schooling until then, she applied and was accepted at the USFQ, one of the most prestigious universities in Ecuador, where she majored in Education. During her junior year she was awarded a full scholarship as part of the university’s foreign exchange program, to go study at Mount Hollyoke College (South Hadley, MA). She was the only student to receive that award that year. Of course. 🙂
Even before finishing her college course work, she was offered a full-time position at the oldest and largest Jesuit high school here in Quito. She began teaching 8th grade Social Studies last September… to 200 thirteen year-old boys. While going to school full-time herself, to finish her last semester.
I’m not alone in my appreciation of who Jamie is. She’s just one of those people everybody naturally loves. Particularly her family… we were all so happy and proud to be able to celebrate with her this weekend. So here are some pictures we’d like to share, of her receiving her diploma from the university Chancellor, being greeted and congratulated by her Dean, and -of course- a group picture with the closest members of her very proud family. 🙂