Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back to Academia

I'm doing it.

I'm getting a Master's degree.

I'm living the dream of a 20-something on a shoestring budget, sacrificing it all to feed her intellectual curiosity, hoping that one day she'll put the education to good use doing something worthwhile in the world. I'm working part-time and hanging out at the library on Saturday nights instead of socializing. Rushing around to the next meeting, class, or appointment like I haven't a moment to spare, because it's all good experience to put on my resume, you know.

Or maybe it's more than that.

Maybe I actually enjoy sitting in the classroom hour after hour because I find the idea of community organizing fascinating and see its potential to change the world. I soak in every word on the page and attend events on campus and try to get involved with local organizations working for justice. I listen to stories of my classmates and professors to learn about their experiences and dreams. Because I want to be a part of it. 

Returning to school after four years was not an easy decision to make. After graduating from Hope, I had made up my mind never to go back - I was done for good, forever. Grad school was just not for me. I could find a good job with my BSW or maybe live abroad for a while (I ended up doing just that, and it changed my life). However, near the end of those challenging and shaping years as a missionary, I heard God calling me to continue my studies. Steering me in a new direction. Beginning a new season of life.

I knew it would be difficult to get back into the "swing of things" as a student, learning to manage my time, focusing my mind to read for long hours, and of course, the dreaded group projects. I won't deny the first few weeks knocked the breath out of me, but I soon adjusted and developed a weekly rhythm. I even figured out the bus schedule.

Yes, there is lots and lots of reading. Papers and projects galore. But I find myself loving every minute of it. Every day brings with it experiences I never would have imagined. From planning a fundraising campaign for a local organization, to advocating for immigrants to naturalize, to exploring the injustice of gang violence in Central America, I couldn't be more excited about the work I'm doing. If that's not a sign that God has a plan and I'm in the right place, I don't know what is. I am forever grateful for this journey that I'm on.

For now, I'm going to keep focusing on school and gaining social work experience. In less than 8 months, I'll be an MSW! As I continue discerning what's next after school in August, your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.

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