No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks

A few hours ago, I submitted my final assignment paper for my last course at Franciscan University. For the first time in 25 years, I will have no more assignments to do. Although I still have a Comprehensive Exam to take in a little more than eight weeks, I am done with the college coursework I first embarked on in September of 1993. Excepting breaks of close to two years after completion of both my Associates and Bachelors degrees, I have more or less constantly been “in school” since enrolling in Mass Bay Community College in 1993. At any rate, I have always known, since that time, that another course, another set of assignments, was coming. Until today. Assuming I can pass the Comps in April, the end goal has finally been reached.

I’m sometimes inclined to downplay my history at Mass Bay Community College, because it seems redundant at best in light of my bachelor’s degree from UML. But truth be told: I took quite a few very meaningful courses there, and learned things in those classrooms that I employ to this day in my professional life. And it was cheap.

There were a few Bozos, as there are everywhere, but most of the teachers I had in that school were the kind of teachers that were in it for the teaching. They weren’t in it for glory, or for big bucks, or for social esteem. Several of them epitomized the dedicated teaching professional, full-timers who were probably lifers at the community college level, who were more than capable of succeeding at higher levels, but were committed to working with kids who perhaps needed more help: Ellen Casey, Marcella Mazzerelli, and Robert Kawasaka come to mind.

There were also adjuncts from whom I learned much about the computer science field. Charles Dyer’s Introduction to Computer Science course in my first semester was not only invaluable in teaching me the fundamentals of computer programming, but has been, at least arguably, the most important course I have ever taken, insofar as it allowed me to see what was possible for me in an academic environment. Likewise, I find, to my continued astonishment, that what I learned in two classes in my 2nd semester, with Fred Willet (Computer Architecture, and Operating Systems), is largely unknown to perhaps 90% of my peers in the Information Systems Technology field. Just from a technical/professional perspective, my investment in MBCC was a ridiculously good investment.

There were only a couple of humanities classes I took at MBCC, but even those stand out as highlights of my early experiences in higher education. My productive 2nd semester at MBCC included a course called Ethnic Studies, taught by Michael Ceddia, which entailed a fascinating look at America’s history of ethnic integration, and which introduced me to the thought of Henry Thoreau. A couple years later, I took a summertime Philosophy course in ethics with a professor named Mastin which both introduced me to the history of liberal philosophical thought on morality, and served as what amounted to my coming out party as an anti-liberal in the moral/social sphere. I had many good discussions with Mastin during that class, and it remains one of my very favorite classroom experiences to this day. That was in the summer of 1996. I took only one more MBCC class after that – a thoroughly silly course in the computer science department – before I graduated in 1999 with an Associate of Science in Computer Information Technology, leveraging 28 credits I had earned at Framingham state College in the meantime.