Magner Come Lowdy


Notes From a University Student 7

I now have an American bachelor’s degree in English. Big whoop. I told them they could mail it to my house. The thing isn’t worth more than a ninth-grade report card. I’m so pissed off! My Dutch library degree was supposedly worthless,  so I had to get my American bachelor’s degree. It’s laughably easy, so I get the highest grades, and then they’re surprised! I keep getting letters in the mail asking me to send my information to be in the Who’s Who of American College Students and I’m invited to join a national honors society Phi Kappa Phi. If I had gone to the graduation ceremony, I could have worn a medal on a special ribbon, and I could buy a special ring for the amazing price of only $40!

This whole time I’ve been telling T that when I’d have my bachelor’s degree with the highest grades (well, apart from two B’s – one because I couldn’t stay awake because I was pregnant and the other because my dad had died and I missed the last weeks of class), that at least I will have shown the bastards.

And he would reply: “You’ll show which bastards what? They don’t care; they won’t even notice. It’s just a mindless bureaucracy.” But I would know, and I thought that would make me feel better. Well, it doesn’t. It’s only more galling that they now notice my high grades and want me to join all sorts of nonsense.

It infuriates me all over again and I would like to send those institutions a letter explaining that I didn’t get high grades because I’m brilliant, but because their education system sucks. But they wouldn’t get it, or they wouldn’t want to know it. They would just dismiss me as a disgruntled immigrant.

I’ve even been called by the university’s Placement Bureau. Without being asked, and without my knowledge, they had gone looking for a job for me, or so they claim. They wanted to know if I was interested in working for the Federal Government in Washington.

When I hung up, after politely declining, I wanted to scream, but I managed to limit myself to crying my eyes out. With my Dutch degree and work experience I’m nothing and nobody is willing to help me, but now that I have this worthless piece of shit diploma from an American university, everybody wants to help me, even when I’m not asking for it.

I don’t want a job with the Federal bloody Government. I want the Federal Government to kick the registrar’s ass and acknowledge my library degree!

But I still had a small revenge. My mother-in-law called me and told me that she had heard from her friend that I had graduated Magna cum Laude (pronounced Magner Come Lowdy). I asked her how she knew that. She told me that her friend had been at the graduation ceremony because her son was graduating, and she had seen my name in some booklet, and that I was one of the three Magners and that there weren’t any Summers this year.

One by one the Magners had been called to the front, and the friend had been ready to clap for me, but I wasn’t there. There had to have been a moment of silence while they were waiting for me. Ha!!! This was an unexpected pleasure, because I thought that I had to sign up to attend the graduation ceremony, and that therefore my name wouldn’t be mentioned, because I hadn’t.

I didn’t hear the best till much later: The registrar who had determined that my degree was worthless was the one who had called out the names at the ceremony, and so he noticed that I didn’t feel his shitty diploma was worth picking up in person. In your face, man! Of course, he probably doesn’t even remember my name…

(From a letter in June 1997)

The next post: Aah, graduate school!

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