The undertaking that was applying to grad school is finally over. The long months of studying, researching programs, writing and rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting) statements of purpose, flying all of the country for full-day interviews, waiting for acceptance offers, negotiating financial aid packets and agonizing over the choice have finally come to an end. I knew going into this process that it would take a lot of work, but I couldn't fathom the physical and mental endurance it would take. The application process tested me mentally, but ultimately allowed me the opportunity to take stock of what I have learned and channel that towards my future goals.
The actual interview process was something else entirely. I was incredibly blessed to receive more interview offers than expected, giving me the opportunity to explore new sections of the country and meet individuals who could push my aspirational career goals into tangible experiences. Through the interview process, I flew to states I'd never visited before, rented my first rental car, experienced my first "stranded in a new city" when Winter Storm Jonas cancelled all my flights one weekend, met many professionals in the field I plan to work in and surprised myself with how I handled being surrounded by people I've never met before. I was terrified by the idea of being thrown into a full day interview where I knew no one but the experience taught me a lot about how much I can handle and how important it is to face my anxieties head on.
The entire process was a tiresome, but incredibly enriching experience. Applying took all my free time in the fall. I had interviews for 6 straight weekends in January and February, 5 of which required me to fly out of town, and 4 additional Skype interviews. Right in the middle of this experience, my grandfather passed away, which jolted the formulating ideas of what I wanted next in an unpredicted way. I made my final visit to a potential school on my 26th birthday, made a decision a few days later and then promptly got sick for the next 2 weeks, knowing my body just needed to crash and reset. Its amazing how rejuvinating the release of stress and your body's healing of itself can be. I've had two weekends in the row of feeling back to myself, and its all finally starting to sink in. I'm making my bucket lists, counting down the days until my "lasts" begin here and the goodbyes start. Reflecting on this entire process, its crazy to think that the dream I once had of getting my Ph.D. one day is a concrete reality.
I'm absolutely thrilled to be heading off in August to pursue doctoral level studies in School Psychology at the University of Florida on an academic fellowship. A lot of praying, reflecting and being honest about what I really wanted for the next phase of my life led me to this decision, and I'm excited to be heading back to the South. The program, the people, the location in Florida (and proximity to beaches and Disney World) and the location relative to home all make me excited for the next chapter, and I can't thank enough all of the individuals who helped me and dealt with me this year. To the mentors who wrote my letters of recommendations and guided my decision making process, to my coworkers and roommates who bore with me as complained and shed tears of exhaustion, to my best friends and family who sacrificed their time to listen to my endless back and forth about programs and whom I am grateful for even though I wasn't as present to them as they were to me this year, I thank you. I know I didn't show it often, but all of your support helped me not only to survive this year, but showed me what sacrificial love could look like, and for that I am ever thankful, for I couldn't have made it to now without you.
Here's to the next chapter