I remember the Animals knocking out the bluesy number “House of the Rising Sun.” I danced my last high school sock hop in our gymnasium just before graduation the next morning. My high school sweetheart and I circled the dance floor, totally unaware of what this night really meant. I would say good-bye to many friends, some of whom I had known all twelve years as a student. I would say good-bye to the basketball games, wrestling matches, concerts, plays, and football Friday nights. I grew up in a small town south of Denver, Colorado, back when soda shops and diners were popular. We would pack the B & B café, order chocolate and vanilla cokes and fries, and listen to music chosen at the jukebox. High school graduation left me feeling great emptiness, knowing some classmates would be leaving to serve our country in Viet Nam, and I said good-bye to my small-town life and moved to the big city.

A new journey began. My boyfriend–and then fiancé—ventured off to college, and while he continued on with his education, I worked two jobs, one selling jewelry at a popular chain store and the other stamping invoices in the basement of a bank, earning money for a wedding dress. He and I later married and had two wonderful children. It was many years later that I completed my degrees.

Today, here I am finishing another “last dance,” and my days at Aims are nearly ended. While a professor here at Aims, I’ve raised three children, welcomed three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter, buried my mother, and said good-bye to my sweetheart. Meanwhile, I spent thousands of hours in the classroom working with students, thousands of hours grading essays, hundreds of hours advising students, and hundreds of hours serving on committees.  I’ve seen six presidents come and go, buildings erected, new programs begin, faculty and staff come and go, and enjoyed many, many hours with faculty and staff.

My heart holds some sadness but also great happiness, for I finished what I started twenty-one years ago and did it successfully. It has been both rewarding and also humbling to have been an educator at Aims. Students have blessed my life richly and shown me much of what matters, both inside and outside of the classroom. I’ll embrace those words of “good-bye” as I leave friends while continuing to hold others close-by. Aims offered me an ideal place for making some dreams come true and becoming a positive influence in society. I’ll remember it fondly.