Capture the Everyday: Lucky & Thankful

I had ambitions of doing two posts today, one on the NaBloPoMo prompt on “What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you and why” as well as a separate post participating in Adventuroo’s Capture the Everyday meme. It turns out my productivity does not match my ambition. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that both posts could fit in one post. Stay with me here.


When I was a senior in high school, I applied for and received a Teaching Fellows scholarship. The now-defunct program (thanks to the bozos in the General Assembly) gave college scholarships to students who would be willing to teach for 4 years in the NC public school system. The scholarships were redeemable at all of the public universities and one private college.

For some reason, I always wanted to attend UNC Chapel Hill. I think it was because it was the paternal side of my family’s favorite college team. As I was going through the Teaching Fellows process, I had to indicate my top college choice and secondary and tertiary choices. You could get into the university of your choosing, but you wouldn’t be able to use your Teaching Fellows scholarship unless they had a place for you. Unsurprisingly, NC State and UNC Chapel Hill had a lot of applicants for not enough spaces. I put down UNC Chapel Hill as my top choice and then faltered. Where did I want to go next? I ended up putting Meredith College in Raleigh as my second choice because I had heard good things about it, my mother talked it up, and since they were private, they matched the Teaching Fellows funds so that it was pretty much a full scholarship. UNCG was my third choice.

I was accepted at UNC Chapel Hill but did not receive a Teaching Fellows slot, so I quickly turned to my second choice, Meredith, which had accepted me into the school and the Teaching Fellows program. I turned UNC down and made plans to attend Meredith.

And it was the best decision of my life. Even though my first glimpse of Meredith was on the day I moved in, I loved it. Granted, I didn’t always love the sorority-esque feel and activities (Cornhuskin’!!!!), but I loved the campus, I loved my classes, and I loved the people I met there. I ended up majoring in English (quite a change for the student who planned to major in psychology and become a therapist one day). I continued my long-time participation in theater by being in plays. Though some of my friends who attended Chapel Hill and professors at NC State were dismissive and condescending about the school, Meredith was awesome. I met one of my best friends there. Attending college there laid the foundation for my future (no, I never taught). Most importantly, I met J there during a “Boy Day,” one of the few times boys were allowed in your rooms. We were married in the chapel almost 10 years ago.


I am so incredibly thankful that I was not given a spot in the Teaching Fellows program at UNC Chapel Hill. I don’t think I would have been happy there, and while my relationship with organized religion is somewhat sketchy and nebulous, I truly believe that some higher power was looking out for me. Meredith was perfect for me.

It is tempting to ponder whether one decision sends you down a wildly different course than another decision would (roads not taken and all that), but I don’t want to think what my present would be like if I hadn’t attended Meredith. If I hadn’t attended Meredith, I may not have this:

Story time!

My sweet boy

And for that, I am truly thankful.

Capture the Everyday from Adventuroo

5 Years of Hard Work and All I Got Was This (Not So) Lousy Piece of Paper

I was so excited to see this in the mail yesterday when I arrived home from work:

My diploma!

I officially graduated on August 8, 2011, but there was no ceremony since it was the summer session.  The weird thing was that I received no notification, no “congrats” email or anything.  It felt anticlimactic, and all I was told was that my diploma would arrive sometime in October.

I spent 5 years in graduate school.  I decided to apply to graduate school at UNC in September 2005.  The deadline was coming up quickly, so I had to rush to take the GRE, obtain recommendations, and fill out paperwork, but I received my acceptance letter in November.

I took my first class in January 2006.  I decided to pursue the MS in Library Science degree in the School of Information & Library Science.  The school has an Information Science curriculum and a Library Science curriculum, and I decided on the Library Science side because I worked as a web developer and was looking to change careers and the IS side seemed like it would pigeonhole me.

I liked the Library Science curriculum because it was more than just Cataloging 101.  It was very broad – more about information and how to organize it – and I could take courses on the IS side too.   More importantly, the courses seemed interesting.  I had always wanted to obtain a Master’s degree, and I had looked at MBA and other programs.  The problem with them was that they didn’t really interest me, and I didn’t want to spend time and energy on a program that I had a half-hearted interest in.

I work full-time and the program does not have a part-time (or online) option, but thankfully my employer is flexible, and I was able to take the courses I needed.  I took one but no more than two courses each semester. Most semesters I had to drive to Chapel Hill weekly although there were a few semesters in which some courses were online. I took summer school courses that always seemed to have me sitting in RTP traffic at rush hour.  I liked the classes that met weekly for 2.5 hours, especially the evening ones, but it was an hour each way, and even though my class ended at 8:30, I usually got home at 10. I met  my thesis advisor (also my advisor) in person twice.

School was a good distraction from our infertility. We discovered our infertility and pursued treatments during this same time period, and I remember sitting in class when we started to consider surrogacy, crunching numbers to see if such a crazy idea could work.  When F was pregnant with Daniel, my Online Social Networks professor and his wife had a baby a few weeks into our class, and I wanted to say “hey, me too!” but it felt a little weird. I took off a year when Daniel was born.

I didn’t make any friends.  I participated in no clubs or activities.  Piles of paper accumulated everywhere in the house the closer the end of each semester came (I am a champion pile maker). Most students in my program take around 2 years to complete the 48 hours required, so I saw a lot of turnover.  I often felt like the invisible student, plugging away.

But now I’m done, and I feel so free! It’s like a major constraint has been removed.  No more drives to Chapel Hill (confession: I don’t really like Chapel Hill).  No more assignments.  I threw away my thesis research over the weekend in the Great Fall Purge.

So what happens now?  Am I planning to quit my job to become the public librarian or academic librarian I had thought I might become when I started the program?  Not likely.  What I learned can be applied at my job.  Was graduate school worth it?  Yes.  I learned a lot and perhaps more importantly, I achieved a goal I had set for myself.

A huge thanks to J, our families and friends and Daniel for their support and understanding over the last 5 years.  This diploma belongs to you too because I couldn’t have done it without you.