Sunday, May 23, 2010
Skidmore College's Commencement and a Special Celebration!
Yesterday was one of the most enjoyable days I've spent in a very long time. My co-worker Mary and I attended Skidmore College's Commencement at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to honor our graduating student assistant, Ivan, who's worked in our office for four years. He came to the United States from Croatia as a basketball recruit for Kent School in Connecticut. From Kent he came to Skidmore where he consistently earned Liberty League's all-academic men's basketball team designation for carrying a 3.2 gpa or higher.
Also with us, celebrating Ivan's success, was George-Ann Gowan, widow of Don Gowan, Ivan's basketball coach at Kent. She shared the story of how her husband (because of a dorm-space shortage) manipulated her into letting Ivan stay in their home for "a night or two, or maybe a week" which turned into many months. It seems Ivan became a real part of their family during that time. He fell in love with them and with their bull dog. When he came to Skidmore, he shared stories of time in their home, and played videos for us of the bull dog's antics. For Ivan, the Gowan's home was truly home away from home. Coach Gowan's sudden death two years ago was a shock and a very sad time for Ivan. He has remained very close with George-Ann.
When it came time for Ivan to open a few gifts, George-Ann asked if I would take a photo of her and Ivan as she presented him his gift. She quietly walked over to him, hugged him and whispered in his ear as she handed him something very small. There were quiet tears as she presented Ivan with her husband's whistle. It was incredibly poingant and while it was a personal moment between the two of them, we all felt the significance of such a meaningful and cherished gift.
Mary and I were so honored to be included in yesterday's celebration of Ivan's life, of his accomplishments. He will continue to realize success, already having landed a terrific position in New York City, with plans to pursue his M.B.A. in a year or so. I told Ivan's he's "the golden child" but really, he's earned every bit of success that's come his way. He's worked, and played, so hard. Without such perserverence, I doubt I'd be writing this today.
Here's an article from Scope Magazine, Skidmore's alumni publication, about Ivan and a fellow team-mate. Please read and see for yourself why Mary and I are so grateful to have had this time with him: http://www.skidmore.edu/scope/spring2009/campus_scene/teammates.htm
Photos: by me.