Earlier this week, I entered another year of life on this beautiful earth. 2017 has been good to me so far. I am focused on building better habits, taking steps towards my goals, banking memories with so many amazing people, and finding joy in the everyday. I’ve been acclimating and making moves in a new job that I absolutely love. In the 5 months since I started my position, I’ve attended multiple conferences revolving around high school/college success and the endless amount of related issues. I will probably attend millions more of these before the end of my life. I usually shed tears at least once as folks share their stories in hopes of empowering students and changing lives. (I’m the type who cries when people win on game shows – do with that what you will.) When I am on school campuses, working on student issues, or discussing anything related to the college experience, I KNOW I am walking the path that was meant for me.
Around the same time I started my job, I was going through the application process for graduate school. In the years since I finished college, I discovered my passion for higher education and empowering students from underrepresented communities. I never thought I was worthy of graduate school. I certainly never wanted to go back to school. I was awful in the classroom and didn’t take ownership of my academics. I felt like I did not do the work in undergrad to get meaningful letters of recommendation–asking for these was such a scary and intimidating experience for me. My GPA was average. I didn’t feel like I stood out enough to be considered for a program I could feasibly attend. I wasn’t sure I had enough perspective to effect change and do good work in the field I am entering. It was through my post-grad experiences and the folks I subsequently met (working in university outreach, reviewing scholarship applications, Lakas Mentorship Program, running a college and career center) that I realized a graduate degree was a necessity for my life. Through a confluence of factors, people, experiences, and so many others things, I finally pushed myself to apply to two programs.
There are a good handful of folks in my networks also pursuing grad school this year. As I see their admission decisions roll in on my social media feeds, I wish I would have applied to other schools. (How my heart aches to be a Bruin again or move to a new city.) I am so proud of them pursuing an advanced degree and doing all kinds of work to lift up our communities. When I see these specific people pursuing their goals, I feel like the world is going to become a better place. That our future is in good hands.
Geography was key in my application process. I am a homeowner and have a job that I do not plan on leaving anytime soon. And I am fortunate enough to live relatively close to two stellar programs right here in San Diego. I will be working full-time and attending school full-time. I know I will be missing out on some key elements–a lot of programs sell themselves by boasting of their experiential, hands-on opportunities. Most students will sample all kinds of departments, roles, and initiatives before graduating and entering the world as a student affairs professional. I sit there and swoon over assistantship listings and feel a looming emptiness knowing I won’t be doing one. I even started crying at a campus visit day when panelist after panelist, student after student, explained how their assistantships were the most integral part of their grad programs.
All of this sounds scary and overwhelming but holy crap, here we are. I am beyond grateful to the people who constantly held me up, inspired me by the way they live their lives, and reminded me that I am enough. To not only have the option of grad school, but the choice of two programs who recognize my strengths and value my experience… it’s a GOOD feeling. I’m building a life that I am proud of and pursuing a career that is at the crossroads of my passions. I wish everyone could find this type of truth and contentment. Bring on the conferences, the tears, and the hustle. I’m here for the research, the coffee, the commute. I’m excited for the learning, the teaching, the doing, and the transformative leadership. Let’s go get it.