HAVERHILL — Bryan Waters made one last promise to his father that he would obtain something more than the high school diploma he’d earned decades earlier. Waters, 57, made good on his promise when he graduated from Northern Essex Community College after five years of attending classes.
Waters never told his family about his promise, keeping it a secret out of concern that for some unforeseen reason he might not be able to fulfill it.
“As his breathing slowed there was one thing I wanted to say to my father before he passed,” Waters said. “I held his hand and promised him that I would return to school and get a college degree. It didn’t matter if he heard me, but I felt that I had to try to say it. He passed away moments later and I hope he heard me.”
Waters, of Haverhill, grew up in the Tower Hill area of Lawrence. He was among the nearly 1,500 graduates receiving certificates and degrees when Northern Essex Community College held its 51st commencement exercises on Saturday, May 18.
“I think my dad would have been very happy to know that I went to college as he did,” Waters said about his father, Fred Waters Sr., an electrical engineer and amateur photorgrapher. “I am the youngest of four brothers and the only one that went to college.”
The journey that led to Water’s receiving an Associates in Arts, General Studies degree from Northern Essex began on March 10, 2005.
“I was in my apartment when I got the one call I was regretting, but knew was coming,” Waters said. “It was from my oldest brother (Fred Waters Jr.) informing me that our father’s health had taken a turn for the worst. He picked me up and we went to our father’s home in Atkinson, where he lived with our stepmother.”