Just Call me Master Funk #UNCBearGrad |We Got the FUNK

Monday, May 9, 2016

Just Call me Master Funk #UNCBearGrad

Less than two years ago, I applied to graduate school at my alma mater. Life was raw at that point in my life.  I had just lost my grandmother and brother unexpectedly.  My daughter was struggling to gain an ounce and dealing with health problems and I was ending what I felt was the worst year of teaching ever.  I had my full time teaching job, two little kids under 4, a husband, this blog and apparently a need to prove something.  A veteran colleague at my job told me that if you do not get your master's degree completed in the first 5 years of teaching in a district that financially it is not worth it.  So I jumped in head first. 

Fun Fact: Herff Jones has awful customer service, and these arrived 2 days prior to my ceremony with the WRONG degree listed.  I have tried to contact them with no help and it is obvious on their Facebook page that others have similar issues. DO NOT order from Herff Jones...EVER
I started classes in August of 2014, and took classes straight for a year and a half.  I decided to complete the Graduate Interdisciplinary Studies, Master of Arts: Science Education Emphasis.  It was STEM focused and the class load looked intriguing.  Looking back it was interesting and challenging, and emotional and hard, seriously SO difficult.  It wasn't so much that actual work that was hard.  It was the thinking and the time and the overwhelming sense that I took on far more than I should have. 

However, I didn't.  I took on exactly what I needed to, when I needed to, and at the right time in my life.  My kids are still little and I spent many evenings after bedtime doing homework and usually once a week or once every other week my mom or husband would take the kids out of the house so I could hammer out some papers or research.  I still managed to be a decent teacher.  My colleagues were phenomenal.  If I was not an expertise in something, they were ALWAYS willing to jump in and give me some advice, tutoring and even a hug when I was falling apart.  I still managed to write my blog. My one happy place that is all mine is right here and I was not about to let that go. Sometimes it was a delicate balance, other times it was a down right struggle and choosing which part of my life was going to win more of my precious time was too much to decide.

I earned new friends.  My advisor, held my hand and walked me through the entire process.  She was amazing and I know that I could not have done this without her. I needed someone to push me, but to be motherlike and understanding.  I am so thankful to her for everything and I am so lucky to call her a friend.  It was an honor to learn from her.

I showed my babies that you can do anything that you put your mind to.  I set an example of high achievement and determination.  I did this for them, in all reality.  Sure the tiny financial gain is great, but truth be told, the main reason that I went after that degree was not to prove anything, but instead to set an example for my kids.

I will round out this degree with a 3.9 GPA and a new appreciation for time. The sweetest part of the entire ceremony was during a section where they were giving out medals to people whose dissertations were basically getting published (I did not write a dissertation).  I obviously did not get a medal and my son started crying because his mommy worked hard and deserved a medal. I did work hard buddy, maybe next time I will get a medal, but for now, I am so thankful to be done, to have time with my family again and to just breathe.

I am proud to be a UNC graduate times two (bachelors and masters), I am proud of the fact that I managed an insane schedule and life, I am proud that I set an example for my kids and I am thankful that it is all over.  I have no plans to pursue a doctorate or a second masters.  I am perfectly happy where I am at.