Two Years Down

Thursday was Nate’s final day of his sophomore year at SUNY-Cobleskill. Or was it his senior year? I don’t know how they categorize two-year programs.

I was thinking back to the beginning of this college experiment. I wasn’t sure if Nate would pass one college level class, let alone all of them. Well, that’s been the case until this semester’s final grades are posted. I think he passed everything, though this course load played into all his weaknesses: lots of reading, writing, and interpretation. Not a computer design class to be found.

He struggled, but one of his professors saw that Nate understood more than he was giving on the written tests. Going the extra mile for him, this prof decided to sit with Nate and administer a conversationally oral exam. In this format, Nate showed that he had worked hard, that he had studied daily and that he knew quite a bit. At least enough to pass. It’s remarkable, since Nate’s fundamental problem in his early years, and still extant, is his difficulty processing the spoken word.

Nate’s got a full course load for the fall and then he’ll still need a few credits for his degree. It’s crazy to be writing that: Nate Katz, college graduate! Then what? One of his design professors loves his work and suggested that Nate could do some T-shirt designs for Internet sales. I’m quite shocked at the level of interest Nate’s college professors have in his success and future. That wasn’t my experience in higher education, but Nate brings out something true in people, and that has held true throughout his whole life.

It’s been clear to me in recent years that Nate can succeed in the real world, but it requires the right mix of situation and people, mentors who would embrace Nate’s strengths and smile benignly at his eccentricities. Whether we can find that recipe and cook it up remains to be seen, but, hey, it’s summer vacation. No time to worry. At least for Nate. For me, I’ve always got him, and his future, on my mind.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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