(Grad) schooled with good news.
This week is starting out peachy-keen, jelly beans.
I got an email last night that I am a potential candidate to represent my university at Graduate Education Day, a state-wide event held in the capitol building in Lansing in mid-April. I have not yet got final confirmation, but I am really excited about even being considered! To attend, to talk to my state’s officials about the research I am doing and discuss the impact that graduate education has on the success of our state… what an amazing opportunity. I never thought, when I was in high school, that I would have been “in school” this long. But I’m not really in school; I have a job, I pay taxes, I contribute to society (right? I buy stuff, I stimulate the economy!). Although I was the first one in my immediate family to get a bachelor’s degree, I always had some seriously awesome mentors throughout my life; my parents, my cousin, my xc coach. When I graduated with my bachelor’s and didn’t try to find a job – just went straight on to get my master’s – my dad had a hard time understanding.
“Why don’t you just get a job and make money?” He’d ask. I could hear him thinking: All that money spent on your education in engineering could come back sooo quick. And I can’t blame him. It’s hard to find a young engineering student who doesn’t at least think about how much more money they’ll make compared to those graduating from other fields (let’s face it, that’s part of the allure to high school students learning about engineering). But it wasn’t about the money for me, at least not when I graduated. I just didn’t feel like I was done learning yet. I wanted to challenge myself, and I didn’t feel like I was ready for the real world, whatever that was, just yet. After I finished my masters, well… I guess I realized that I still wasn’t done learning, even then. And I wanted to find my place. I just didn’t think I’d fit in with industry all that well.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that people who go into industry right out of college continue to learn and grow. They move around in their company or between companies. They acquire new skills. Academia is just a different avenue by which this can happen, too. For some (not all), its more self-directed.
So… here I am, back at Tech to get my doctorate. I am working my way towards the “final” degree. I guess I can’t go anywhere further in school after this, as far as going up goes. I also can’t extend my student loan deferments. I’ve learned some really important things, and I am finally content with saying I’m ready for the real world (well, I will be when my advisor and committee says I am, anyway). But I am still not done learning. I want to continue to ask questions and do research and explore the questions that my research findings unfold. There will always be questions, and I am excited to dig deeper.
In other news, I also got an email today regarding a fellowship I applied for earlier this semester. The DeVlieg Foundation, which provides two doctoral students and one masters student a generous award each year, has application rounds at the beginning of the spring semester every year. I’ve appled before, but was not chosen. This year, I just so happened to be one of the lucky folks. Well, maybe lucky isn’t the right word. I would like to think I deserved it. I have worked my butt off to get as far as I have; in the two and a half years I’ve been digging deep into the doctoral research. It makes me sound arrogant, but after years of joking of the necessity of having low self esteem but acceptance of criticism. But that’s the way it is supposed to be, that is what I signed myself up for, right? And I am so far from complaining. It’s emails like the ones I have received today that make all the pains lab struggles and failed experiments be erased, if only for a second. It’s nice to have my efforts recognized, and I am so grateful.