Most of you probably know that I teach in a federal prison. Once a year we have a graduation ceremony for the GED graduates and the inmates who finish other big programs like apprenticeships, also. The GED graduates wear a cap and gown, and they're the focus of the ceremony. It's one of the biggest deals we have all year. The warden and executive staff are always there, and the work supervisors of the inmates usually come, also. We also have guest speakers from the outside. The president of Drury University spoke this year. We've had representatives, senators, and even Waylon Jennings speak before! It's a pretty big deal event.
Until late last year, I was teaching in GED class. When our GED tester retired, I moved upstairs to become the tester. I couldn't teach GED and administer the test by the GED rules, so this was probably my last graduation with my inmates walking. Anyway, I had one come up to thank me after graduation. He's a 68 year old meth cooker. I doubt if he'll ever get out of prison. He spent a couple thousand hours in class before I got him and another couple thousand in mine before I got him through. He did his mandatory hours a long time ago and was only staying in class to say he finished. I talked him out of dropping several times. Well, when he walked up to me, he was nearly crying. His lip was quivering and he told me,"I never could've done this without you. I just wanted to say thank you."
It's not often people in my line of work (corrections) get sincerely thanked. We're usually getting cussed or having urine/blood/feces thrown on us. This guy actually thanked me and meant it. I'm not sure exactly what it means, but it has to mean something in the grand scheme of the universe to have an inmate nearly cry thanking me.
Graduation is my favorite day of work all year.