Monday, April 25, 2011

U=Undergruate (B.A. 1986); Graduate (M.A. 2010)

(My apologies for not getting this posted in a more timely fashion; I'm struggling with abdominal pain, may be ovarian cysts; more tests coming soon.)

When I graduated from Duke in 1986, after 16 years of school, I was finished! I wanted to get into my teaching job, and quit learning! (funny, huh?) I was not one of those people who wanted to continue to get higher degrees (MA, PhD, MD, etc). I was finished with being a student, now I wanted to be a teacher!

I never even considered higher education, until I was teaching at Caldwell Academy. One of the benefits of teaching there was reimbursement for further education. Also, I had a friend who had just gone to a local Divinity School to get her MA; her stories and encouragement got me excited about studying the Bible in an academic setting. Although she ultimately quit, I still credit her with giving me a 'push' to investigate for myself.

People often asked, "Why are you going to Divinity School?" I didn't want to become a pastor or counselor; I didn't have any plans for using an MA;  I just wanted to know more about the Bible, Christianity, God, and my relationship with Him. So, I applied and was accepted at CEDS (now Carolina Graduate School of Divinity) in May of 2006. I was excited to start immediately with a "Faculty Directed Study" (mentored by the school's President) in the New Testament. I remember taking my new books to the beach, reading and taking notes while viewing the waves!

I'm the blonde on the left, in aqua, paying close attention!
When the pain started in May of 2007, I was one year into my MA degree. I had planned on taking one class per quarter (at night, while I continued to teach), and graduate in 4 years. I was doing well in school, and enjoying my classes, classmates, and professors. Taking just one class at a time helped me really get to the heart of the study, without feeling too overwhelmed. Unfortunately, the classes were four hours long (for me, usually at night, 6:00-10:00pm). The most painful stance for me is sitting. However, I talked with each of my professors, and they all agreed that I could take breaks and stand, or lay down at the back of the class, or do whatever physical activity I needed to do in order to complete class. Some allowed me to listen to recordings of class (while at home, supine on the floor). After a time, the pain management clinic recommended a TENS unit, which helped me stay seated for longer.

Graduation Day, May 2010
During the worst seasons of pain, when I couldn't work, when I couldn't do housework, when I couldn't have lunch with friends... I could study. I could learn. I could continue with my degree. Graduate school became a lifeline for me. Because of my commitment (and the flexibility of the staff), I kept taking classes. I took one whole year of Hebrew (learning to read and write different letters and backwards), even earning an award!

I was thrilled to graduate in May 2010, Summa Cum Laude. My Mom threw a great party for me, and even got a cake shaped like a graduate's mortarboard! I'm so glad that I decided to pursue higher education... I wonder if someday, I'll be a PhD!

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