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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

We traveled to Decatur, Illinois this past weekend for my grandson Jackson's graduation from Millikin University. The instant he arrived on that campus four years ago he felt at home. He told his dad at the time, "I'm going to do fine here." Little did we know.

He had a theater scholarship, but after taking a one-hour course in Tanka poetry (from Japan), he changed his major to Creative Writing. The school was so proud to have Jackson as a student he got to keep his scholarship. He did take additional theater courses. During his high school years, Jackson was in a number of plays and did a summer of drama study at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Jackson pledged SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) fraternity and worked his way up to president. When the national fraternity offered a leadership training cruise, Jackson was one of the top 25 undergraduate SAE leaders in the country selected to attend. He attended three training courses, one as a counselor. The summer between his junior and senior year he had a paid internship in the marketing and public relations department at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He spent one year working for Millikin's student-run publishing department and became its marketing director. He wrote a book and it was published. He was editor of the school's literary journal.

Since starting my column twenty-five years ago, I've written about Jackson more than anyone or anything else. We had Jackson for twelve years before we had other grandchildren, so he got to travel with us all over the country, from California's Disneyland to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. He camped on Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area, saw Mesa Verde in Colorado, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and toured the White House. He swam in Pacific waters off Hawaii's Big Island and saw the Beatles' Love Show in Las Vegas. He was an excellent traveler and was appreciative of every trip.

My son Kevin (Jackson's dad) told me one time when he started talking to Jackson about drugs and other temptations, Jackson replied, "Dad, you're not going to have any trouble with me." He has lived up to his promise. He has had stellar high school and college careers and has had a stellar life of accomplishment. He graduated summa cum laude from Millikin and was the honored guest at a Board of Trustees luncheon prior to graduation. We got to be there as his guests.

He was chosen to represent his class at the graduation ceremony and made a speech that was interrupted eleven times with laughter and five times with yells and applause. His speech was titled "Standing on he Precipice of an Uncertain Future." In his concluding remarks, he asked his fellow students, "How will you take the next step in your life? Will you walk? Will you fall? Or will you fly?" The entire audience members in Decatur's Civic Center jumped to their feet, applauding and cheering. After the tassel-turning ceremony, administration, faculty, friends and family congratulated Jackson. Am I proud? Yes. Wouldn't you be?

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