Perseverance is Key

Every September, I waste about two hours of my life watching Apple present their latest and greatest iPhone and other tech. I did the same last night. I stayed up way too late, watching it on my iPad as my iPhone and AppleWatch were charging on my dresser.
 
I’m embarrassed to admit that to y’all, but it’s true. I’m just stone-cold addicted to Apple products. It is pathetic, really. My iPhone 7 will function just as well as the iPhone X but alas, my iPhone 7 isn’t the iPhone X! I almost jolted up when I saw they won’t take pre-orders until October 27th. The pre-orders are more than a month away; I don’t know exactly when I’ll actually get the stupid phone. Ah, talk about first world problems!
 
In all seriousness, I am bad about Apple products. We all have vices, and Apple is mine. But I respect the visionary who deserves all the credit in the world for making Apple the giant it is today. Steve Jobs is that person.
Apple went from the unquestioned king of the mountain to near total failure and back to king of the mountain again. Why and how? That is a much longer story and worthy for everyone to learn. It was Steve Jobs and his insatiable drive. Perseverance is key. 
 
Let me tell you a story about myself.  Bear with me, it’s a long one, but it’s good. I was to graduate from the University of Utah in 2004 with a degree in Chinese and Business. I had been focused on an accounting degree but found out my last three courses needed for accounting could not be taken in the same semester. They needed to be taken one after the other.
 
I hadn’t properly planned on that, and I was beyond ready to graduate. There was no way I was going to school for another three semesters. I was working full time, my wife and I had one child and another on the way. So, I changed my Chinese minor to my major by taking the final three courses for it, and the business courses had already been completed. On I went with those final three Chinese courses. 
 
Near the very end of that final semester, my wife had our second child, our son Samuel. Sam had a normal delivery, and we were thrilled with our new arrival. Shortly after his birth, things went downhill very quickly. He was life-flighted to another hospital and our whole world came crashing down on us. It was a very difficult time, difficult for years and still is to this day.
 
My story isn’t about Sam, but when all this happened, I still had school work to complete in order to graduate. I went to the professors and told them my situation. They totally understood and said I could take incompletes and send in the final papers within two years to complete the course work and graduate.
 
Even though I can’t really remember details from 2005 to 2007 with the stress of a severely handicap baby and just living the life all that entails, I do remember completing the course work in spring of 2005.  I emailed it into the professors and thought nothing more of it.
 
Fast forward five or six years. My father came to me one day with a big book printed by the University of Utah showing alumni with their graduating year and degree. He opened it up; it was alphabetical and he pointed to his name and that of my brother Spencer, but guess what – no Shane.
 
He said, “Why aren’t you in here?” I didn’t know and thought that was pretty odd. At that time, I had purchased the business from my parents and relocated to Texas. It was the height of the Great Recession, and I didn’t much care to look into this. I had much more important priorities.
 
A couple years after that, my family was in Utah for a couple weeks and I decided to go to the University of Utah’s campus to find out what the problem was. I got zero help; the department chair was not there and no one could answer my questions.  I left frustrated but knew I’d look into it again later.
 
Fast forward once more to last year, 2016. I was in Utah again for my oldest niece’s wedding. I went to the campus a second time to try and get answers. I met with an absolute saint. He was a ton of help!  He actually cared.
 
He went through my transcripts, could clearly see I should have graduated but my last three courses needed for graduation showed incomplete. He said he understood the problems and he’d work on it.
 
I flew home to Texas and it was not much longer when he called me saying the department chair needed to have the professors change those grades, and the only way for that to happen was I had to show proof I sent them the final papers and essays.
 
Now remember, that was 2004-2005 when that was done; it was 12 years ago. I found my old backpack, which had folders containing printed off email confirmations of the course work sent to the professors, but I did not print off the attachments – the actual work.
 
That wasn’t good enough, they told me. I had to show proof of the email and the actual attachment. I looked at what email address I had used, and it was an old MSN account. I thought, OK great! I can just go log onto that old account and find the sent email. Wrong. MSN deletes emails of inactive accounts after five years off their server. I hit another dead end.
 
I then thought, maybe I can find the saved files on my computer. I didn’t really think that was possible, as I’ve had many computers in between, a failed hard drive and even a laptop that was dropped in my bathtub while turned on.
 
But I’ve got to hand it to Apple! Low and behold, even with all the new computers and problems I went through, I actually found the files I needed and by some sure MIRACLE, the time stamp they were created was there! I couldn’t believe it. I reached out again to the university and emailed them the files. I thought to myself, “Finally! Done.”
 
Nope. One of the professors had retired and frankly, he didn’t care if I lived or died. He wasn’t touching it.  The department chair basically said I was out of luck, her hands were tied. She said if I wanted to graduate, I’d have to retake that class and by the way, the requirements had changed for that degree so I would have to take additional courses to meet the current requirements.
 
Well no, not acceptable. I asked if I could meet in person with the professor that had refused to take this up. Even though I lived in Texas, the school was in Utah and he lived in China. She laughed and said, “Boy, you sure are persistent!”
Darn right I am. She said to leave it with her and she’d get on it.
 
The very next day, she said she’d persuaded him and he’d take a look at it. She warned me, though, that he wasn’t happy, so I shouldn’t expect a favorable outcome. Well, he liked it enough to sign off on it and that made it official. I was done! 
 
Thirteen years later, I was “officially” counted as a graduate. The university, however, said there was no mechanism to retroactively put me into my 2004 graduating class. So, 2017 it is!
 
My oldest nephew also graduated from the U this spring. My lovely mother just couldn’t let me sneak by without wearing the cap and gown. So, behold, here I am in all my graduation glory! 
 
 
Here is to persistence. Here is to getting smacked in the face with what life throws at you and just keeping going, even if it seems hard to breathe sometimes. And also, here is to trusty Apple products that saved my hide big time!
 
With horses, we must persevere to taste success. Whether you are like me and depend on horses to feed your kids, or if you are just passionate about horses and enjoy all the wonderful things they bring into your life – perseverance is key. Don’t ever give up.
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