I’m typically a picture-poster on social media for every event or milestone in life. But when it came to my graduation in May, I’ve been in denial. If you had asked me about grad school after finishing undergrad, I would have laughed at you. “I just finished months of work on a capstone project and 4 years of school. Why would I want more?”
But oh how life has a sense of humor when we start naming things we would never do.
“I’ll never leave the 405.”
“I’ll certainly never move to Tulsa.”
“I’ll never buy any non-Toyota vehicle.” (yes, I’m that snobby about car brands)
“And I’ll definitely never go to grad school.”
The I’ll never list could go on. I’ve gradually learned to stop saying it to preserve my life and sanity. My “I’ll never go to grad school” got turned upside down when my husband and I did move to Tulsa in 2012. My first job here was in college admissions. And it’s a dream job. But surprisingly, I began to miss school. It sounds nerdy, I know. I also began to notice that the people in my someday dream jobs all had graduate degrees.
So I started exploring my options. I scrolled through the grad programs common for those working in higher ed – M.Ed. MHR. Then I came across a new program in Tulsa that was the public sector version of the MBA – the MPA (Master of Public Administration). It sounded interesting enough and I filled out the application. The program was recently passed into the hands of a new faculty named Meg Myers Morgan. I can’t remember exactly how my first meeting with Meg went, but I remember feeling like I was looking into a personality mirror. She had spent most of her professional career in the public sector and you could see her passion for the program from a hundred miles away.
After that meeting, I was in. In for all the tense class discussions on how policies impact populations differently. In for the projects that revolved around building budgets and strategic plans. In for the seemingly impossible task of brainstorming ways to fix our broken education system. And in for dedicating my life, energy, and effort to making things better.
Who knew that grad school would involve all that? Certainly not me.
Working in education, it’s easy to feel like you’re fighting for a lost cause when you take up arms to fight for better systems in our city, state, and country – better education, better healthcare access, better political processes, etc. It’s an uphill battle, and one that I regularly get discouraged about when so many things seem to be working against it.
But then I look around at my classmates who are in this fight with me. And I look at the next generation of students that I work with in high schools who also care deeply about making change. We may be few in number, but there’s no group of people I’d rather be fighting next to.
So here’s to my nostalgia about grad school. I finished my MPA in May, but I’ll never be finished fighting for change.