One would think that after 3.5 years of tortuous failed invitro fertilization, an agonizing two year wait for an adoption, the completed adoption of -- twins!!! -- born 2 months premature and parked in a NICU for 2 months, 5 months of maternity leave (mostly unpaid), a return to a workplace often toted as "the best place for working mothers" and then waging war in HR for that well publicized but apparently fictional "flexible" schedule -- that simultaneously completing a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration was just plain crazy. Well, it was. And it wasn't.
It was everything I needed, wanted and didn't expect. My experience was just shy of epiphany. Even when courses didn't go the way I thought. In some cases, they didn't happen at all; however, the education gained was more than expected. Taking part in Suffolk's Graduate program in Higher Ed has been one of the greatest educational achievements I've ever undertaken. As a First Generation graduate students -- the only woman in my family with a four year degree -- let alone a graduate degree, just picking up my cap and gown -- I seemed to grow 2.5 inches in the bookstore.
The pathways to educational enlightenment, more often than not, were not completely pedagogy, theory, nor practice-based. In many ways the experience was holistic -- involved understanding the art of negotiation, the validity of independent thought, opinion and respect of and for the opinion of others. There were tough lessons in diplomacy, tact, reason and expansion of one's capacity to just listen. Respect was gained for peers -- and don't we all have a story to tell? -- from different sci-economic backgrounds, different sexual orientations and from foreign colleagues -- insight gained into life outside of the U.S. There is no standard of exit exam or nationalized achievement assessment strategy -- which could ever concretely place value or exact measurement on the value of the education I have received. I can simply state -- it was one of the best decisions of my life. I am profoundly grateful to Suffolk University.
Graduating in a time of Titanic-like panic over the continuing U.S. fiscal economic meltdown -- not so nice, for sure. Semi-deer in the headlight moments of how to pay for thousands and thousands of student graduate debt -- on top of a mortgage and car payments? That will put some grays on you. However, it is also an educable moment. Perhaps, that oh-so sought after (in an era of downsizing, restructuring and downward salary spirals -- increasingly elusive) 6-figure job will have to wait. Perhaps it's time to think survival -- pare down and get to the nitty-gritty of what life is truly all about. Follow the heart. Be true to yourself. And the rest will follow. Perhaps, on my journey to vocational happiness -- I do arrive at that 6-figure job -- and I find it's not worth the toll it may extract (and in an economy where the MEGA-JOB -- often entails being ON 24/7, wired to the gills, crackeberried and never allowed to be "off", 70-80 hour weeks...) However, because of my experience at Suffolk, I feel I have been given the critical thinking tools to analyze and make good decisions both professionally and personally. The ability to leverage intelligent thought in decision-making, strength of confidence to research and then exercise action or propel an argument and the ability to trust and logically follow an independent thought to it's conclusion.
Now that's what I call education. And, that folks, is priceless.