I got an e-mail yesterday from my graduate adviser that my masters portfolio project passed... which means my degree program is complete. I have graduated from UB's Graduate School of Education!!!
It's odd not having a ceremony to attend... or wear the cap and gown. The ceremonies can be tediously long, but they give a sense of completion - of finalization to the long journey a person has traveled. I opted not to attend the commencement this past May since I still had the big project to do.. and it wouldn't have felt right to go through the pomp and circumstance only to go home after and do homework. Still... my diploma should be sent out in September.
I'm still getting used to the idea of not having homework to do. This is the first summer in a long time that I haven't been taking classes, and at UB, classes resume for the fall semester in late August. I'm trying to break back into the habit of reading for fun --- something that has not been possible for quite some time thanks to being overwhelmed with course readings and assignments. Every time I pick up my book, I get the feeling that I should be doing something that's due for class some time soon. Old habits are hard to break, but I will delight in breaking this one.
I have met some wonderful professors and instructors over my academic career. Some of them have been wonderful mentors, friends and reminders of why I love teaching. Without their patience, understanding and sensitivity, this road would have been a much harder one to travel.
I have to say... here in print.. where everyone can see... that I could not have come this far without the love and support of my family and close friends. There were many many times when I felt overwhelmed by the work I was doing. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far off for such a long time. My family -- most especially my parents -- always had faith in me, and my good friends -- especially my Walmart co-workers and UB classmates -- were always there to cheer me on and boost my self esteem when it was so badly deflated. I owe so many of you a debt of gratitude for your love and support.
The job market for teachers remains turbulent and it seems less and less likely that I will find a position before the start of this school year. So... I am exploring other options for employment that might not include teaching. As much as I love the career I worked so hard for, I can't magically make jobs appear, and it's time to be supporting myself and moving forward. There are no plans to go "back" to college for a new degree... I have enough debt from the bachelors and masters to last me quite a while... but perhaps my degrees will open up doors that I had not considered before. Only God knows.
When I first enrolled in UB back in 2003, I sat on my patio late at night feeling so overwhelmed. I never thought I'd get through that first semester, yet alone complete two degrees. Everything seemed to be changing so fast, the work too hard, the campus too big. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But here I am... looking back.. and I can finally say: I did it!