Friday, December 17, 2010

Graduation: from the sandbox to the podium

This is a very special weekend for me. I am graduating with my masters degree. Pretty exciting. I don’t think I ever actually thought I would get a masters. Although I love school, I hate homework. Although I love reading, I am lazy and would rather watch TV. Although I get good grades, I always think the next section of school will be too hard to handle. Thus, although I had always considered a masters degree someday, I wasn’t always sure that day would come… especially three years to the day I graduated undergrad. I think that is the most mind boggling part of this whole adventure of an accomplishment!

Three years ago on this very day I was sitting in my favorite professor, Dr. Kern’s, office finishing up some grading for her (because I was her TA… probably the worst one she’s ever had because I had two jobs, 18 units, a sort of social life, and lived off campus with the best roommates in the whole world). Anyway, Dr. Kern was helping me apply to grad school. The plan was to start in the fall pursuing an English degree or an MFA in Fiction writing. As we were correcting one of my application essays, Dr. Kern stopped, looked me in the eye, and said “are you sure you want to do this? Because I don’t think you really do. It isn’t making you happy.” And with that, I broke down into tears told her I was very unhappy and really didn’t think I wanted to go to grad school yet, but didn’t know how to tell my parents or anyone else who believed I had potential. Plus, I was terrified about what life would look like without school. As usual, Dr. Kern knew all the right things to say and I ended up throwing away an application to UCI’s MFA program (including going back to the Registrar to request my money and transcript order back) and felt a huge sense of relief and excitement about what would be next for me. 

I had no idea three years ago that I would still begin grad school in the fall, but in a completely different field. I also never expected to work at APU still, nor did I expect to work in the department I am currently in. My life looks drastically different than it did that day and I could not be more glad. I can’t believe the paths God can lead you down in just three years. It is unfathomable how much I have grown through my job and my degree program, as well as my friend experiences and personal struggles over the last three years. I feel so much more confident in who I am and how I make decisions than I ever did three years ago. 

I do have to say that there are times in the last three years that have proven to be some of the most difficult moments of my life. But there has also been a lot of joy. And both have lead to a great deal of growth. I can’t believe how my life has turned out due to one beginning decision in Dr. Kern’s office and I am looking forward (with some hesitancy) to see where I am in three more years. 

Three years ago I decided to pursue happiness. I took a risk to take the path less traveled and it lead me right on to the same path I was originally going to take (i.e. get a masters degree, live on my own, have a full time job) but from a very different route. It was as if I was traveling and my destination was the 210 freeway but instead of taking the 5 freeway to the 57, I took the 15. Looking back on my whole journey since undergrad to now graduating with my masters degree just makes me realize that God can do amazing things in our lives. There is no one formula or one sequence to get us where we need to be. As long as we obey God, keep the faith, and live within His guidelines, we can do whatever we want. I always say we are all in God’s sandbox, and God doesn’t mind if we want to build a sand castle, or sit to the side, or dig a hole, or play with a sand bucket, as long as we don’t step outside of the sandbox, we can choose what we do. 

In the same way, what I have learned is that as long as you let God direct your steps, you can step however and wherever you want. You can even sprint, dance, or somersault.

Who knew a masters graduate could still learn so much from a sandbox? :) 


Josh, Chrissie & Matthew said...

Well said, as always. Congratulations carry, how awesome - so excited for you!!!! :)

Josh, Chrissie & Matthew said...

Seriously, how did I misspell your name?! I was distracted when I was typing - ugh. Anyway, congrats CARRIE!!!!!!!

Amy Fields said...

I am SO happy for you! Wish I could be there to celebrate! You are amazing.