Monday, May 18, 2015

Graduating with Gratitude: A Letter of Thanks

You guys. I freaking DID IT. Wednesday evening I crossed the stage to receive my Master's hood and added three letters to the end of my name - M.Ed. What?!


I'm so thrilled to say that I accomplished this goal. Graduate school was never in my life plan until the spring semester of my senior year of college and I realized that Higher Education was the path I wanted to go down. I drastically changed my post-graduation plans when I came to this realization, and with that, had to make many sacrifices. Instead of going right into the workforce so I could start paying off my student loans from undergrad, I had to start from the bottom of a brand new field, including unpaid work. Instead of beginning to establish myself financially, I had to rely on many people in my life to help me out for a few more years. It's been a crazy and difficult journey, but I am so thankful for everyone in my life that has supported me along the way, and because I am lucky to have such a HUGE support system, they definitely deserve their own blog post, so here it is.

First and foremost, to my Mom, Dad, & Sister - Thank you so much for supporting this dream of mine. Taking a non-paying job right after 4-years of private college education probably wasn't the idea you had in mind for me, but thank you for believing that it was the right choice to get me on the right path. Thank you for the constant messages of love and support. Thanks for supplying me with meals and tanks of gas here and there to keep me going throughout the past three years. Thanks for trusting me that I had everything under control and was doing what I needed to do to be successful. I will always appreciate your support through the highs and the lows, the boringness and the excitement, and am lucky to know that I will continue to be supported in all of my endeavors as I continue to build a life for myself. You guys are seriously the BEST and I love you so much!

To my lovely boyfriend Brett - Thanks for being the one who was right there next to me through every twist and curve of this entire journey. I was just beginning my graduate school application process when we went on our first date, and now here we are, nearly two and a half years later, going after our dreams whole-heartedly while building each other into our future plans. You were there through every overwhelmed crying session, through every late night project, through all of my nerves before big presentations or tests, and through every celebration that came with the conclusion of each semester. You were there with me every time a migraine took over, helped me talk through every dilemma I was facing, and was always there for me to provide a laugh, a hug, and a smile when I needed it most. I don't know if I could ever repay you for how much support you provided me through these last two years, and I know I am the luckiest girl in the world to have had you here by my side through it all. I love you so much, and am looking forward to this next chapter of our lives together! Thank you so much, my love!

Of course, to the wonderful staff of OSIL - you all provided me with so many valuable experiences during my time as a grad, and really opened up my eyes to what it was like to be a Student Affairs professional. You showed me the value in finding the chances to laugh through every hectic situation, and trusted me with projects and responsibilities that I didn't think I would be able to experience until after graduation. You really believed in me as a graduate and as a professional, and as a result helped me find the confidence in myself that I needed to enter this field. There's a reason why it's so hard for me to leave my position with OSIL and it's because you all accepted me into your OSIL family with open arms over the past two years and helped me become the professional that I am today. I am always going to remember my assistantship in OSIL as the key foundational experience to my career, and for that I will always be thankful.

Brittany & James - I am so happy that you two goobers were part of this experience. You two were really what made this second year of coursework bearable. You made me laugh, raged appropriately with me, were a huge resource of support, and made every late Monday night at least halfway enjoyable. I only wish that we had the bond that we had through my entire grad school experience, but I am thankful for the past year that we had together. I'm so excited to see where our friendship goes in the future, because I know this is only just the beginning! See you on the group text... ;)

The rest of my BSU Student Affairs Counseling classmates - I'm so happy about how close we all became this year. When I first started, it really didn't seem that many of the Student Affairs grads were that interested in forming a close bond with one another, but I really feel that this last year we all got so close and it made things so much fun! I hope you can continue the closeness with the newbies next year because no one knows what we're going through better than us!

New Student & Family Programs - Thank you providing me with the opportunity to work with you all not only once but twice! I had such a wonderful experience working with you all last summer and it really allowed me to add some depth to my resume which helped immensely in the job search. I am so excited to have been invited back this summer to join the Orientation Team once again, and I so greatly appreciate the opportunity to get more experience in the Orientation world. You all have become yet another BSU family of mine that I know I'll be so sad to leave at the end of June.

The lovely students of BSU - There are far too many of you to name names, but you are all so wonderful. Whether I worked with you through PC, Orientation, establishing new clubs, or just in passing in OSIL, I've had so many wonderful experiences working with you all. You made me laugh, you trusted me as a professional, and we formed so many strong bonds over the last two years that saying goodbye to BSU has become one of the most difficult things I've had to do. Thank you so much for welcoming me to the Bridgewater community and teaching me more than you'll ever realize. You all are going to do so many wonderful things in the future, and I can't wait until our paths cross again!

Tim - Thank you so much for taking a chance on me as your first Student Affairs grad intern! I was so excited when Joanne connected the two of us and to get the opportunity to work on building up a leadership program at Clark, and I'm so happy that you and I have made a connection that will last through my career. You've given me so much guidance on being a professional, and showed me that it's okay to express yourself, even when your opinion may not always be the popular one. Your confidence is contagious and, admittedly being someone who struggles with that, it was so wonderful to have you to be a supporter in my journey into the professional world. Thank you for all of your guidance during this last year, and I'm looking forward to when we will work together again!

Joanne - You've basically been my Student Affairs sesnsei since we met at Dean back in 2012, haha! It's been so crazy how I've basically followed in your path thus far - taking your apartment in Dean Hall, filling your GA position in OSIL, and then working with you at Clark - but it's been such a wonderful help during my time as a grad. You understood what I was going through unlike anyone else because you lived through it, and you were always right there letting me know that you were willing to help me whenever I needed it. I can not thank you enough for providing me with the guidance I needed on all things Dean, PC, and BSU related. It really meant so much to me and I'll appreciate it throughout my entire career, so THANK YOU.

Dean College - I can't forget the institution that gave me my professional start! Though Dean provided me with many challenges, I really came into my own as a professional here. Through the challenges, there have been so many awesome memories made at Dean, which are really all thanks to the people that I worked with the closest. Thank you so much to everyone that has been a part of my Dean experience, with special shout outs to my students who kept me sane throughout the crazy schedule that grad school provided me with, especially Cassie, Liz, and my CAs Hanna, Laura, Mary, Jenna, and Zach, and of course the rest of the CA and RD staff that I spent many long nights of duty with. Can't wait to see what you all do next!

Rob - I am so happy we became friends back in the fall of 2012. You were literally the one who got me through that first year at Dean, and continued to be the person I could always turn to when I needed to vent about anything ever since. You are such an amazing friend and I'm so proud of everything you've accomplished since I've met you! Now that we're both done with grad school, I can't wait to see you more often and laugh and be stupid like we always are when we're together. Thank you for always being there for me, bud. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate it! :)

Jenny, Kelly, & Lena - Last but certainly not least, thank you so much to the women at Lasell that introduced me to the field of Higher Education when I first started to become interested in it. You all answered my questions, gave me guidance and support, and even acted as references for admission to grad school and for various jobs along the way. I wish we could be in touch more often, but know that I'll always remember that you three are the ones that guided me into this field and helped me find my way. Maybe one day when we're not all so busy (and if Kelly is ever back in the area) we can all catch up, but until then THANK YOU. I will always, always appreciate everything that you've done for me.

I wrote pretty much this entire post with tears in my eyes because it's made me reflect on just how lucky I truly am to have all of these wonderful people in my life. Of course, this post only scratches the surface of everyone who was rooting for me along the way (don't think I forgot about you Louie & Noble!). Thank you all so, so much for everything. Everything you all have done for me, no matter how small, did not go unnoticed and helped me more than you may realized. I couldn't have gotten through this experience without you!

Now that graduate school is FINALLY over, I officially have more time for regular blogging again! I'm hoping to establish a solid schedule for myself again within the next few weeks, but I'll be back later this week to share more photos and videos from graduation and to give a proper life update (including more exciting news!) so stay tuned for that! Hope everyone had a lovely weekend! :)

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