I’ve got some exciting news to share with you all: I’m going back to school!
It’s been quite a while since I was going off to college– 10 years, actually, which doesn’t really seem possible.
I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Evansville. UE is a pretty tiny (about 2,500 students) liberal arts college in southern Indiana. I’m still not 100% positive how I ended up deciding to attend, but it met most of my (18 yr old self’s) crucial requirements: private liberal arts, small classes, and study abroad. I was mostly focused on studying abroad, and UE makes that easier and more accessible than any other school to which I applied.
Just so you have an idea, this is where I lived and studied in the East Midlands of England during the Fall semester of 2007:
Although my heart was mostly set on traipsing through Europe, I ended up getting a lot more out of my time at UE: lifelong besties and a phenomenal education, just to name two. I also had the opportunity to join an organization called “College Mentors for Kids.” The idea is that college students are paired with a local elementary-age students from an underserved school population and spend a couple hours together on campus every Monday learning and exploring different topics centered around higher education and career, community service, and culture and diversity.
To keep this concise, I was paired with a student who challenged me, frustrated me, pushed me, and opened my eyes to the realities of educational inequalities. He also brought more light and laughter into my life than I ever expected. My relationship with my little buddy was a major catalyst for me to pursue joining Teach for America later.
I was also gifted with some incredible professors who taught me a lot more than how to write a stellar press release or the concept of prurient interest in a media law case. (If Peter or Jamie reads this, I hope you appreciate that throwback.) Dr. Wandel, one of my all time favorite professors, taught me a lot about accepting responsibility, real-world consequences, and how to be an articulate, professional, badass woman. Dr. Stankey taught me that creativity is a vital component of success, and that rules should never keep you from doing what you feel is right or necessary. Dr. Brown taught me how to find and appreciate the beauty in the written word.
So why does all of this matter: Studying abroad, my little buddy, and the professors who shaped me as a young adult? All of these experiences and relationships helped me figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Now we’re back to 2016 and me adrift in life, living in Australia with no job and no real responsibilities. For me, all of this freedom led to a lot of reflection, prayer, mapping my goals in my Passion Planner (if you don’t have one, you should immediately order one now!), and getting really honest with myself about what I want, regardless of anyone else’s perceptions or judgments.
I want to be a professor of Literature. I want to read books, discuss books, and write critically about books. Donnie tells me this makes me a huge nerd, which I am perfectly happy to accept. I know what I want, so now it’s time to make it happen.
I’m starting a Masters of English Studies program this July at the University of Sydney. I’ll be attending school full-time, and I am also in the process of getting certified as a “casual teacher” which is basically like a sub for primary and secondary schools, but requires a teaching license and several other certifications. I know that I love teaching, and I feel like a teacher in my soul, but instead of teaching first graders how to read, I want to dive into great works of literature with college students.
I am thrilled to be starting this program. It wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my amazing husband who trusted me completely when I told him this is what I needed to do. His immediate response was, “We’ll figure out a way to make it work,” which is why he is my favorite person ever. It’s a luxury to be able to study a subject I love, and to be able to do so in a foreign country is the cherry on top.
In two short months, I’ll be heading back to college after a 6 year break. I’m a little nervous, especially since it’s been almost a decade since I cranked out an annotated bibliography, but I am so excited to finally be taking this important step towards the future I’ve dreamt of for years. And I’m excited to share this new part of our adventure with you all– so stick around, it’s about to get even crazier!