Legacies can be cherished or burdensome. Legacies can be known or hidden. Legacies can be something to celebrate or something to forget.
I was raised by college-educated parents. My father was a philosophy professor at a public university until he retired at age 70. He met my mother when they were both at Baylor, where she graduated with a BA in Spanish while he graduated with a degree in Bible. I am a product of East Texas (my mother) and West Texas (my dad). Where else would they meet but in Central Texas?
I recently was reminded of something I had forgotten about my roots. My multi-faceted legacy – my inheritance from my parents – now has another facet.
My mother was a product of Corpus Christi Junior College – now Del Mar College. In going through papers in my mother’s office recently, I found pictures from her time at Corpus Christi Junior College (CCJC), where she was “Most Representative Sophomore”, President of Phi Theta Kappa, President of the YWCA, a sophomore class officer, and Secretary-Treasurer of the Student Council.
That’s her, pouring tea, in the YWCA picture.
That’s her, first row on the left, in the PTK picture.
That’s her, second row, second from the left, in the Sophomore Class Officers picture.
My legacy – unbeknownst to me – is grounded in the mission and role of community colleges in a very personal way. My mother was a teenager during World War II, and she had to work before she could start college. She was a first-generation community college student who loved her time at CCJC. It helped shape her, and it was her pathway to a four-year degree, to meeting the love of her life, and to spending the rest of her life connected to higher education, both through my dad and through me.
My passion for community colleges – my missionary zeal, if you will – has its roots in a Texas junior college of the 1940s. My mother gifted me with this legacy, and I didn’t even know it. Her legacies are many – she was kind, and gracious, and friendly, and thoughtful. One of my lifelong friends described her as “a treasure”. She was all that – and she was also a community college success story.
I’m writing this post because December 7 will be the first anniversary her passing. So here’s to the many legacies of Doris Jane Jones Scott. Here’s to our roots, both known and unknown. Here’s to our past and our futures. Here’s to my mother. And here’s to the power of community colleges.