Today is my graduation day.
I set the post time of this entry to coincide with the conclusion of my final class that will close out the requirements for me to receive a Masters of Science.
What the degree is in is not of importance (hint: it's a branch of psychology that can make clinician-level salaries =P), but by creating this ghetto rendition of a graduation ceremony picture (see right -- my major was obviously not computer graphics), I have celebrated. I am not attending my actual graduation ceremony because non-terminal masters folks like myself are recognized only in a group (not worth paying for a gown and dragging my family out for that).
However, my co-workers decided to set up a potluck soon to celebrate. They are so awesome! I've only been here for about two months, and they have been encouraging and took me out for my birthday and even got me gifts. And speaking of work, I went from a level 1 to level 3 position literally overnight, which comes with a raise that I probably need. Now that the class load is shrinking, perhaps I will finally get a chance to actually be focused on work.
These past two years have been filled with emptying pockets, sleepiness, Jamba Juice, numerous presentations, mass printing (thanks to Tea Time for doing some of that), statistics, headaches (not just from the statistics), accents, missing out on races, biases, ticking lots of people off due to my unavailability, stepping out of my comfort zones, and personal sacrifices up the wazoo. I was working the whole time -- even two jobs for a while -- and attending classes on nights and weekends, taking more than the required courseload and being the first in my cohort to finish a thesis with a respectable GPA to boot. I normally don't like to broadcast things I've done, but the level of torture (for lack of a better word) I was able to endure astounds even me, who went through it. I thought perhaps seeing it typed here would solidify it, or perhaps I need to wait the 4-6 weeks for my "piece of paper" to arrive.
Why did/do I put myself through this? (That is such a mile-22 question!!) My parents were not too keen on (i.e., discouraging) me going to school when I could have already gotten a decent job. I didn't even want to go to college when the time came, but I only went due to pushing. And not having that for graduate school was demoralizing. On the bright side, I think they have become more accepting of my endeavors, as I sometimes overhear them mentioning it to friends/relatives. But still, I had to mature quickly and guide myself through this journey and suck up all the difficulty as my own flippin' fault. I watched my sisters enjoy their weekends and free time together while I desperately tried to balance all the facets of the things on my proverbial plate.
I'm too embarrassed to refer "The Ukrainian" to my blog, so I am free to gush about his role in all of this. I don't know how I got through the first half of this program without his caring affirmations and listening ear. He texted me each time I had an exam or class presentation (which was mucho). He tried not to tempt me with plans and told me that school should come way before him in my list of priorities (not always so, my dear :]) and that he would always be ready and waiting for me.
A huge congratulations to those terminal masters (MA) students in my cohort who are now completely done with school. They have inadvertantly taught me that everyone has something to contribute in spite of their differences. While I am jealous of them, I somehow feel like I am not quite done yet. I'm not sure if I will reach *that* level of done, but I feel that I should keep trying. Because my parents raised a hard-worker. Because I want to break away from their abnormally high risk-aversion. Because there are so many people who will never have the opportunity to pursue their education. Because, at least for now... I can.
By choosing this path, many doors have opened for me, but I'm going to keep knocking. I've only reached the 13.1 mile marker, after all. Big hills ahead! Time for more training.