The final 4 moments in the countdown to my birthday, which is today. It’s been pretty neat, looking back at these moments that I’ve listed over the last 2 weeks or so.
#37: High School Graduation
I graduated from Ballard in 1996. I was so excited about it that I made myself nervous… but I don’t know why. I remember holding hands with a long-time friend, Shemeka, as we walked out, because we both couldn’t stand still in line. It was an awesome night! My parents, 2 brothers, and sister, plus my Aunt Jodie, Uncle John, and Aunt Martha, all made it out to the ceremony. A lot of very hard work had paid off: I earned my High School Diploma (Advanced Program)! And there was an extra moment of ‘excitement’ for that night: a Tornado Warning hit Louisville that night.
#38: “African American Student of Excellent Award” for JCTC
I enrolled at Jefferson Community and technical College (JCTC), based in Louisville, in 2014, after a 7 year layoff from college. I majored in Computer Information Technology (CIT), on the Programming track. In the Spring of 2016, I was one of 42 African-American students recognized for a high cumulative G.P.A. (a 3.80); this was out of 6,000+ students in the entire JCTC system (6 schools in 4 counties). This is one of the highest awards I’ve ever received – I’m still honored that I was even nominated for it!
#39: 1996 MusicFest Orlando
“MusicFest” was a festival that featured different High School bands and orchestras, throughout the nation, performing and competing in such ensembles as Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Symphony Orchestra. They would rotate the festival through different cities. In 1996, my school – Ballard High School – went to MusicFest Orlando; we competed in Marching Band (a 1 mile or so parade, in Disney World, playing music from the “Indiana Jones” franchise), Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble (I remember “American Salute” but can’t remember if that was 1995 or 1996), and Jazz Band.
I was part of the Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Wind Ensemble, so I had to take 3 separate instruments with me: a Trombone, a Marching Baritone, and a Euphonium. Wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done but it was extremely fun. I think I was the most nervous for the Jazz Band because I had a very small solo in one of our pieces, plus I was the least comfortable on Trombone; I was the most comfortable on the Euphonium.
By the end of the festival, we had captured 1st in Wind Ensemble, 2nd in Symphonic Band, 1st in Jazz Band, and 1st in Marching Band (which I think shocked a lot of us). We were named Grand Champions! Going up to accept the Grand Champions trophy was a highlight of my entire music career. What an awesome week in Orlando!!
#40: JCTC Graduation
A few weeks after #38, I finally achieved what I had been working towards for 20 years: a college degree. I earned an Associates in Arts, With High Distinction. As part of my degree, I also was awarded an A+ Certificate, which, according to Techpedia, “is a basic certification that demonstrates proficiency with computer hardware and operating systems (OS)…. It is governed by nonprofit trade association CompTIA…. The A+ certification helps prove the recipient’s proficiency with the use of computers and related devices.” I could fill up pages with some of the highs and lows that I had to go through to get that degree. Until I earn a Bachelor’s Degree, the Associate’s Degree is the biggest honor I’ve had in college!