Chicago: Unfinished Business

“Revisiting former chapters of my life seems to be a rather common theme lately. I moved to the Chicago area with my family just after graduating high school in 1993, and within a couple years I had begun taking classes that would eventually lead to my Bachelor of Arts degree. This past weekend, I finally returned to Chicago to settle the unfinished business of formally receiving my undergraduate degree. If I had known that process would take as long as it did, I probably would have enrolled in truck driving school instead.

My feelings about Chicago are a mixed bag these days. I lived in Chicago on three separate occasions, totaling about eleven years. That’s about a third of my life, and the bulk of my adult life. As of this writing, I lived in Chicago for a longer period than I’ve lived in my own hometown of Cincinnati. For many years I considered Chicago my adopted hometown, and had plans to settle down there and sink some roots. As I got older, though, and as the city changed (not always in positive ways), my thoughts about Chicago gradually began to sour, and I ultimately sought greener pastures elsewhere. Even so, there’s no denying how Chicago shaped me as a person, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences and friendships I gained in Chicago for anything. I was born in Cincinnati, but I became an adult in Chicago.

I began my undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1995. I left the program after a couple years for a number of reasons, and spent the next decade or so working full-time at various architecture firms while taking occasional classes toward my degree. In retrospect, I was completely unprepared for college in 1995. But in 2006, I finally got serious about finishing my BA degree and enrolled in the School for New Learning at DePaul University, a self-directed program specifically designed for nontraditional adult students. Over the next couple years I took evening classes in Chicago while working full-time, did my Advanced Project while living in New York, and finished my degree with my Externship this spring while living in Cincinnati. I can’t say enough good things about DePaul and the School for New Learning, and I credit them for putting me in the position of starting my Master of Architecture degree this fall at the University of Cincinnati.

I drove to Chicago from Cincinnati this past Thursday for my graduation, and upon arrival, took a long walk around the Chicago Loop. Friday was spent touring some of my old stomping grounds around the city and attending various commencement-related events on the DePaul University campus. On Saturday, with my parents and a couple close friends watching, I walked across the stage of the Civic Opera House to receive my degree. Here are some photos from the weekend.”

From Chicago: Unfinished Business, posted by David Cole on 6/14/2010 (117 items)

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