#GradSchoolGrind

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.

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The Road to Grad School

I’m really going to do this grad school thing. Against all my instincts and wishes coming out of college. I have never felt that my goals were clear and my dreams were attainable (with hard work, dedication, sacrifices, and passion) until now.

My GRE prep course recommended reading scholarly non-fiction books or articles. I subscribed to The New Yorker, mostly because there was a deal and I enjoy the articles and comics. (12 issues for $4, though.) I also purchased The Best American Essays of the Century. Just finished “Corn-pone Opinions” by Mark Twain and holy shit, it could not be more relevant during this election year. Can I just read all this interesting historic/notable/iconic stuff and be set for the test? Please?

Where has she been…? And who am I?

I’m in the business of seeing. At least I want to be.

Since senior year of college, I’ve been involved in the art world. As much as I’ve allowed myself to be. As much as the art world has allowed me to be. Creativity, expression, and art have always held an interesting place in my life. They have been my guiding lights, the tenets by which I live. Yet I have taken little action to assert myself in these ways. Without an artistic background or formal training, I have stood on the sidelines appreciating and wishing. It’s not that I am afraid of failure–it’s that sometimes it’s easier not to try. Sure, that’s not as gratifying. And there are always excuses to be made. But the point is I am now “doing me” as best as possible. As I’m rounding out my 25th year, I’m finding that not trying is getting harder than just doing the damn thing. This pent up energy must be put to good use. I still don’t have a clear picture of what this “thing” is, but I’m finally ready to start creating it. There is too much inspiration around me not to.

Consider this blog… why has it been 7 months since I have last written? It’s certainly not a lack of material. It might be hesitation to put myself out there, though people who know me would not believe that. Do I have better things to do? Have I been doing better things? Yes and no.

When I am getting to know somebody, I love to ask, “What you be doing if money, education, and time were not an issue?” Dream jobs can say a lot about person. Alternatively, I enjoy finding out what someone would do if they had one hour of free time. What would you most like to do in the world with 60 spare minutes? My default answer is writing. Specifically for this blog. But somehow, I’ve let seven months get away.

I do know one thing. I have been looking and seeing. And I’ve been inspired. I’ve been reading, watching, and listening. And I’ve been inspired. Feast your eyes on some of the beauty and creativity below.

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Rest area at The Ebell of Long Beach, CA

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Restroom sign at The Ebell of Long Beach

Restroom sign

My Halloween nail adornments

My Halloween nail adornments

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Part of a Madmade Designs baby shower set-up at Booze Brothers in Vista, CA

Earlier this year, I made a decision to stay stagnant in my full-time position. It afforded me so much freedom, time for leisure, low stress. I convinced myself early on that I would have time to work on my other projects, which was true. Needless to say, I haven’t made much progress in those either. But I’ve reached a tipping point. I’m ready to do me. Really do me, even if that means doing extra work. Procrastination will no longer plague me. 2016 is not far off and there is plenty to accomplish. I’ve spoken some goals into existence, but here they are for good measure:

  • Find a meaningful full-time position
  • Lead a healthier lifestyle (physically and mentally)
  • Get my small business up and running (and profitable!)
  • Start (and hopefully finish) the digital photography certificate program I enrolled in
  • Buy a house
  • Travel to Europe

XOXO