I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

by Joe Thomas


Those folks who are reading that have known me for a while know that my educational career has been… inconsistent. In the fall of 2004, after graduating from high school, I took classes for exactly one semester before dropping out. A year later, I tried again at Georgia Perimeter College, and lasted almost a year before quitting again. After a five year sabbatical, I started taking classes at Southern Polytechnic State University in the fall of 2011, and after changing my major to English and Professional Communications, I think I’ve finally got the hang of this “college” thing. Last semester I had a 3.5 GPA, the best I’ve done since, like, middle school. Today, as I pulled into the parking lot at SPSU, I was actually excited to start classes. In my first blog post after starting writing here on a regular basis, I talked a little about how I’ve come to realize the importance of education, but really I think the most important part is education on your own terms. This doesn’t mean not doing things you don’t feel like doing, but rather putting yourself in the right situation, one in which what you need to do and what you want to do intersect. For some people, this is possible right out of high school. For others, they’re able to fight their way through a less than satisfactory freshman year and find where they want to be. And for still others, folks like me, it takes a little longer to find that intersection.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people throughout the last eight and a half years who have offered me support and encouragement as I’ve wandered. My adviser at Berry who was disappointed I was leaving because the school “needed more people like me”. My parents, who encouraged and supported me as long as I was moving forward, not backward. The wonderful people in Athens, Georgia who helped me transform from a 20 year old slacker who went to the bars too much to a 25 year old with priorities and goals who still probably went to the bars a little too much. My buddy Brian who didn’t mind when I called him in San Francisco to argue about politics and talk about literature because I was afraid my brain was rotting while working in a parking deck. The folks from the wonderful Camp Mikell community who’s arms and hearts were (and still are) always open no matter what I was doing. The Georgia Conservancy, where I found out how I can use my skills to do work that matters and that work can be fun and rewarding at the same time. And my English Composition professor at SPSU who after I turned in my first paper asked what I was majoring in, and when I replied Construction Management calmly told me that that was stupid and that I should switch to English.

Reading over the last paragraph, I realize that this post would probably be better served coming after I graduate, but that probably won’t be for a while still. As I look ahead, it is refreshing to have ambitions and goals again, and I didn’t want to go on any longer without expressing my appreciation to the wildly different and wonderful group of folks that have supported and influenced me over the last few years.

Y’all are the best, and I owe you everything.

Thank you.