One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

From the Heart – the reason I go to Grad school & my Goals

It is the last day of January and the semester is moving along quite well so far. Lately I have been reflecting on my goals and reasons for going to grad school and my goals in general for life. Many of create goals based upon hope of gaining a better opportunity for a job and hopefully a career to have a comfortable living style. And yes that is a very valid reason due to the economy we live in. But for me it is different, it is much more than having a career and having a comfortable life style. I have created goals bases upon the expectation and hopes of others as well as influencing others as I progress through my degree.

When I graduated from UMW, I honestly did not know what I wanted to do with my degree. I had so many interests but not enough money to pursue them, especially going to grad school. So I decided to pursue some of my interests by just keeping up with anthropological readings and working on side projects with friends while I worked to make extra money to maybe and hopefully get into grad school one day. I did that for about two years. At that time, yes my goals was to go to grad school to advance and have a better opportunity at finding a good paying, stable career to live the rest of my life comfortably. It was also the hope of my parents, my father especially. He wanted me to get a Masters degree and get a career, although he didn’t agree with my choice of a career in anthropology he wanted me to get a Masters regardless. So I worked 2 jobs both in the aquatic field to make extra money at the same time I was studying for the GRE and searching graduate schools. I also met my future husband during this time as well.

Then everything in my world changed.

In October of 2011, my father became seriously ill. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and the doctors said that he would have about 2 years if it remained untreated. And that is what hit it, made me realize that I needed to accomplish the goal of going to grad school and achieving my masters for not only myself, but for my father. He wants to so badly see me get my Masters. The reasoning for my goals changed, it is for him. My goal is to finish my Masters within the time that has been given to him. That time is until this coming November. My goal is to hopefully be done with the course work by the end of the Fall 2013 semester. And that has proven to be a lot of work. A full time grad student is 9 hours (3 classes), I take 12 hours and do as much research as I can working on my masters thesis in the time that I have when I am not working on course work. Due to living expenses I am working this semester at the university pool to be able to continue to going to school.

I have never in my life wanted or worked so hard for something, and this is not for myself. It is for my father. To see his goal achieved through me by gaining my Masters degree. I find that I work harder and much more focused when I think about what I am doing and who I am doing this for, and it gets me through the rough times.

I am getting married as well so I can have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away to the man that I love and I am going to spend the rest of my with. I want him to be there and to be apart of the next chapter of my life.

With all this said, I could have not done any of this nor have gotten through these past months and this past year without the aid and love of Brian. When my father got sick, he was there and understood what I was going through. All the raw emotions that were so hard to handle at times and still have when I think about my father. Brian lost his father when he was 15 years old to cancer and knew and understood what I was going through. He was there when my emotions got the best of me, he was there and forgiving when I made mistakes due to being blinded by my uncontrollable emotions. He helped me learn to control them and has always listened when I need to just let my emotions out. He is my crutch in life. He is the one I lean on when I need help or when I just need someone to listen. He is my best friend and soul mate, I could not have asked for anything more.

If it were not for Brian, I would not have been able to live and go to school. I have the little money that I was able to save up from working, but as many of us know the cost of expense of living. He provides extra support in paying for my rent and my trips back home to Virginia and he is so selfless. He would give up our precious time together for me to spend the time with my parents. We met only a little over a year ago, but it seems like a life time of knowing each other. And he is another reason I wish to meet my goal of being done by the end of the fall semester. Being over 700 miles away from him is hard, but we have both discovered that this has built and made our relationship stronger as well as our love. I want to be able to see him every day when he gets off work and be with him every waking moment of our lives. But he has been so understanding of my goals. It is very hard knowing that after we get married that we both have to be separated so that I can go back and finish school and he has to go back to work. We are giving up a honeymoon due to the lack of expenses we have for that. But you have to be willing to sacrifice.

With the always depending potential for deployment, we cherish the little time that we do get to spend with each because it could very much be the last until his return. Although with all his support, like I have stated before I have to go work on top of school to be able to make enough to pay off expenses. He had wanted me to just be able to focus on school and not have to work but we had to realize that it just isn’t possible at the moment.

Even though Brian makes a great living that could support me for the rest of my life had I not gone to grad school, I would not have the need financially to go to get a career. But as I have stated before, I am doing this mostly for my father because I love him and I want him to be proud and see that I have accomplished his goals. I will have to admit that I would feel greatly accomplished when I am done. But again not for just myself. I see this as a way to help others better their lives as well. I have always enjoyed teaching. I have been a swim instructor for 10 years and CPR, First-aid, and Lifeguard instructor for 6. And I have enjoyed teaching individuals to are willing and want to learn to help them be better prepared in life. I see having a Master’s as doing just that as well. In anthropology we learn why we are the way we are and acknowledge other individuals and cultures. I want to be able to teach what I have learned to other who share the same interests, need to be culturally aware of other countries (such as military deployments), etc. I would even volunteer my time if it meant being able to provide, influence, and educate another individual to hopefully better their life.

With all of this I can’t forget to acknowledge my mother who is my idol. For the past year she has been my supporter as well as the rock of the whole family. With my father being ill she has had to drop all her wants to support and help with my father and the family. My father is no longer able to drive and has many appointments during the week between local doctor visits to MRIs and visits at UVA (2 hour drive from where they live). She drives him, takes him to his appointments, and sacrifices her wants and needs to support my father without complaining. She has also been helping with my wedding planning by visiting and talking to local vendor, as well as picking up the financial expenses as much as she can so that I don’t have to be stressed out about it. I have been trying to keep the wedding as simple and inexpensive as possible, but I have no means of being able to pay for it nor does Brian due to helping me pay for school. At times I have considered of not doing a wedding so that my parents did not have to pay for it. But my mother wants me to have a dream wedding and she helps out in any way she can. It is hard being over 700 miles away, paying for school expenses, and trying to do most of the wedding planning. I am so thankful for her and I wish I could contribute more or have other help.

Meeting my goals and being done by the end of next fall would allow my father to see me married and have my degree. It would also allow me to be closer to home to be able to help my parents, help drive my father to his appointments, and allow my mother to have less stress. So here is to crossing my fingers and long school days ahead. But I hope it is all worth it in the end.

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