School of Hard Knocks

Today I read a few newspaper articles about an author and journalist I admire – Pete Hamill – who at the age of 75 was finally receiving an honorary high school diploma from Regis High School in Manhattan. I have to admit that I was completely shocked that Hamill accomplished what he did without completing his education.

I had to chuckle.  Regis is a Jesuit-run high school and I thought to myself – if he did so well with two years of a Jesuit education, imagine what he could have done with four!  All kidding aside, however, one of the things that really amazed me about Hamill’s story is his determination and his ability to overcome the obstacles in his life. The articles noted that Hamill dropped out when he was a sophomore to work at a sawmill and later broke into the newspaper industry as a journalist, columnist and editor. He also wrote numerous books of fiction and a memoir titled “A Drinking Life.”

At any graduation that I have been to, the giving of honorary degrees always seemed a bit odd.  But when I read this story – about a man who achieved so much but still wanted his high school diploma – I realized that perhaps this symbolic gesture for a job well done has more weight than the simple paper it’s printed on.


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