2009 in Review: Pursuing Edumucation

I’ve always kept a journal.

When I was a teenager, writing was the only way I could put into some semblance of coherence the thousands of confusing thoughts that were running around in my head. I started with pen and paper, moved (Doogie Howser-style) to the 486 PC in the 90s, and settled into keeping annual archives in Microsoft Word documents in college and beyond. Now, I’m chronicling my life on this blog.

Although the medium has changed, my annual tradition of recapping the year during the last two weeks of December remains. I find it useful as an exercise not only to remember everything that’s happened to me during the past year (I have horrendous memory when it comes to life experiences), but also to take stock of the many blessings I’ve received so I can finally shut up about my perceived deficiencies and just be content.

First stop on this trip down memory lane: March 12, 2009, otherwise known as D-Day: Dissertation Defense.

Cue over-the-top Michael Bay explosion and dramatic James Horner score.

I started the doctoral program in higher education administration at GW on a lark. An interim appointment at the University of Rhode Island was ending in July 2005, and I was scrambling to figure out that “next big thing” to tackle on my professional to-do list. Scouring my old files after I had been admitted to the program and deferred, I gave the program coordinator a call to see if there was room for me to start in August. As providence would have it, yes, there was.

And suddenly, the no-way-I-could-make-this-up blessings began to flow. Things unfolded in such miraculous Goldbergian fashion that within the span of a week, I (a) secured a graduate research assistantship from GW that would cover my tuition, and (b) found a place to live in Northern Virginia for cheap. It was as if, tired of my incessant whining for direction, God finally decided to smack me in the head with a 2×4 and drag me to DC. In retrospect, that was preferable to being swallowed by a whale.

What followed was four years of ups, downs, and middles that grew me up tremendously. You’ve probably been audience to those growing pains on this blog. I met so many new people and had so many new experiences—some thrilling, some frustrating—that only served to remind me of the divine intervention that paved the way for me to be here.

March 12, 2009 could have been just another Thursday. And my dissertation defense could have been another hour-and-a-half meeting. But it was more than that to me. It represented the culmination of a four-year-long adventure that was undeniably God-ordained from the beginning. DC was never on my radar prior to 2005; never in a million years would I have imagined being in this town. And yet here I was, getting ready to defend my 250-plus page dissertation and join the ranks of my colleagues as part of academia’s community of scholars.

That’s an accomplishment I don’t usually like to brandish (other than the fact that this blog went from Coobysnacks to Dr. Coobysnacks). But I’d be foolish to take any credit for getting to this point. Sure, I worked hard. Sure, I spun my wheels. But the bottom line was: JC wanted me in DC. And so I went. Maybe blindly. Maybe foolishly. But I went anyway.

On my right ankle, there’s a tattoo of the Hebrew letters for “God.” The Bible verse that accompanies that tattoo is Psalm 121:8, which says “the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (The King James Version has the more poetic “The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”)

March 12, 2009—a day that will not quite live in infamy—is testament to the divine hand that, despite my being a punk, watches over my coming and going both now and forevermore.

Me at graduation, wondering how I'm going to pay off those student loans.

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