Marvins Window: Educational chances abound in U.S., state

The windshield of the car was my window most of the weekend.

I needed some Windex and a lot less snow as we drove to Flagstaff Thursday evening.

The white flakes of snow were flying at the windshield by the millions in a hypnotic pattern.

I was more interested trying to stay in my lane of I-40 than trying to determine if each snowflake really has an individual shape.

We were on the way to fall graduation at Northern Arizona University.

Like thousands of other relatives and friends of the graduates, we wanted to see our granddaughter receive the diploma she had worked so hard and long to earn.

We now have another nurse in the family following the graduation and pinning ceremony.

This granddaughter was pinned by her sister who received her RN pin in December 2002.

We have a third granddaughter who expects to complete RN training in 18 months.

NAU president John Haeger said in brief welcoming remarks that the fall graduates are further evidence that students can receive a good education in America's public colleges and universities.

Not many months ago the U.S.

Supreme Court heard two cases involving selection of students allowed to attend the University of Michigan undergraduate program and law school.

Some people seem to think a few elite schools have a monopoly on quality education.

The president of NAU was making the point that an excellent education is available in this country at many schools.

NAU is just one example of the hundreds of public community colleges and public universities that provide excellent educational opportunities to millions of Americans at any stage of life.

Some schools may receive higher rankings from various kinds of evaluators but no school is best for everyone.

Every person willing to make the effort and study can find a place right for them among the educational opportunities in this country.

NAU has made its mark in several areas since 23 students and one professor started the school in 1899 as Northern Arizona Normal School.

The university continues to make excellent contributions to educational opportunities across Northern Arizona and the remainder of the state.

Over 900 Master of Education degrees were awarded in Friday's ceremony.

Our three granddaughters have taken three quite different routes to careers in nursing and they illustrate the wide opportunities and individual routes available in America.

Sarah graduated Saturday from NAU after taking extra time to find an opening in the nursing program at the university.

Available slots are limited even with the critical shortage of health care workers.

Lisa had her nursing schooling interrupted by the arrival of two fine great grandchildren.

Mohave Community College provided the opportunity for her to complete her education in Kingman while also filling the demanding role of mother.

Katy got a head start on her nursing education in Ohio in a program that allowed her to take her last semester of high school at a technical school that is one of the Ohio community college options.

She is near her LPN little more than year past high school graduation.

The program will allow her to continue study to earn her RN and join her mother in the nursing field.

This country offers many unique routes to higher education that defy the need to go to the U.

S.

Supreme Court to fight over a few slots in the so called "prestigious" schools.

There were many Navajo graduates at NAU Friday.

Their proud parents and friends were a large part of the supporting cast present at the ceremony.

I found it encouraging that a university of the quality of NAU happens to be located so near their home and provides such excellent opportunities.

I saw similar education choices for minorities in Georgia where black students take advantage of the culture and history of historically black universities.

At the same time, the other public universities are open to those black students who choose that option.

Sometimes we get so engrossed in the small disagreements over what doors may seem to be closed to some students that we forget the big picture.

Nowhere are more educational opportunities available to a wider variety of people of all ages than in this country.

NAU continues to be an example of a state university that serves the region while making worldwide contributions.

They have contributed to national forestry research, to the homeland security of the country through work with anthrax research and discovered Pluto using facilities at Lowell Observatory.

There are literally thousands of places like NAU and MCC across this nation that provide post high school education for millions of Americans and foreign students.

Sometimes I wonder why we seem to talk so much about an "educational crisis" in the USA.

Congratulations to Sarah, Lisa, Katy and all the others who have taken advantage of the opportunities before them.