My Road To Grad School
by Millie Sharp
My senior year at Drury, I began thinking about getting a master’s degree, but didn’t know how I was going to become a grad student. As my friends, classmates, and Facebook newsfeed erupted with news of graduate school acceptances and fellowships, I focused on wrapping up my collegiate career, but craved to continue my education. Soon after graduation, I became a staff member at my alma mater. Little did I know, but this opportunity would open the doors to realizing my dream, once I committed to stepping beyond my own uncertainty.
Over the summer of 2011, I became determined to begin my graduate studies in the fall, minimizing the time I had to doubt myself or talk myself out of pursuing another degree. I still felt new to the working-adult world, so there were at least as many reasons to not begin my graduate education as there were to start it. I had just moved into a new position at work, was purchasing my first house, and was a new mom to a Dachshund, in addition to pursuing my passion for paranormal investigation and blogging.
As a natural worrywart, recovering perfectionist, and solitude-seeking introvert, my biggest fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it all to the highest quality and stay sane. I also knew that if I didn’t jump in and start taking graduate classes, I might never do so, and could lose out on career advancement opportunities to those who had. Perhaps even worse, I could be left with a lifetime of “what ifs.” Even if grad school wasn’t for me, it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.
To tackle my challenges and ease my doubts, I decided to start slow, taking just one course that first semester. I soon found myself in Shewmaker 222 for COMM 601. Upon seeing familiar faces from campus and getting acquainted with new people, I felt comfortable in the classroom.
Though the tasks in the course were often challenging, I quickly picked up on threads from my undergraduate career and my experiences in the working world that helped me apply theory and readings to professional situations. After completing the course and getting the grade I knew I had earned, I felt validated and I was more determined than ever to complete my degree.
Since that point, I’ve remained on the slower track toward graduation, only rarely taking more than one course per semester. However, not forcing myself to complete the program in a specific timeframe has been a positive experience for me. I’ve never felt totally snowballed or overpowered by my coursework, and I still have adequate time to devote to my duties as a Drury employee, puppy mom, and paranormal investigator.
Two years later, I have May 2014 graduation firmly in my sights, and have been able to use my expanding knowledge of organizational communication to improve the flow of information within my office. I’ve had opportunities to interact with leaders and organizations outside my own workplace, and have learned to trust my background in theory and praxis to better communicate. Without having taken the leap into graduate studies, a masters’ degree would be just a dream, rather than a reality clearly on my horizon.