3.5 years ago, I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get my Master’s degree. I started looking at local places, but quickly realized that working fulltime, trying to find a program that fit into my work schedule would be really difficult. I put it off for a little bit, and then decided to look into some online programs.
The University of Maryland University College had a master’s degree in management of nonprofits and associations. I have always known I wanted to work for nonprofits but I wasn’t sure how or doing what. I decided I would apply for this degree. While applying I read about the dual degree program, for another 18 credits (or a year) I could get my MBA upon completion of the Masters of Science in Management of nonprofits and association. I applied, and a soon after got my acceptance letter.
At that time in my life, things were in flux, while I didn’t know it right then, my 5 year relationship would be ending, but I knew things weren’t great. I wanted to do more with my life than be a nanny and I wasn’t sure how. This was the first step, it was scary.
My parents and grandparents and family were exceptionally supportive. They were so excited when I said I would be going back to school. There was much support given, cheerleading and checking in. My mom and dad, and my grandparents were always there to listen to my stresses, cheer me on, rejoice in the good grades and were understanding when school came before family get togethers and wedding planning. Also to my little brother, who is my constant comic relief in life and who is currently kicking ASS (sorry grandparent’s) in his first year of undergraduate with 3 A’s and a B in his classes!! I couldn’t be more proud.
In the middle of the first semester my world was flipped upside down. I left a relationship and moved and somehow managed to not fail the classes. I had a lot of people supporting me and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I also dug deep and found the strength to focus on me. I put my head down and worked hard on school and focused on that and running only. Probably the way I healed the most.
I met Eric during my 2nd semester; however, I don’t really remember it. I went over to Jess and Travis’ house to watch football… except my nose was in a business statistics book the whole time and I was struggling with a question. He tried to help me, but quickly retreated and said he had no idea (neither did I and I ended up turning the assignment in with that one blank) I remember him being there, but I wasn’t much fun, and I didn’t really talk to people much so I don’t really count it as meeting him.
Eric met me at the beginning of Grad school and dated me throughout the whole time, 2 years of long distance and only seeing each other on weekends, with many of those weekends with me behind the screen of a laptop. I tried really hard to balance school and dating, but sometimes school had to win. There were many times when I was so stressed and grumpy, many weekends where I ignored him all day, which were really hard. Times when I wanted to spontaneously go and do something, but we couldn’t. Beautiful days spent inside because school calls. However, he never complained and always supported me in my schooling. I am not sure he will ever know how much it meant to me that he was supportive of me during that time. Thank you babe for the patience and understand you showed the past 2.5 years, WE made it!!! Now let’s go on some dates! :-D
To my friends, thank you for not being offended when I spent many Friday and Saturday nights not hanging out. I have answered no I can’t to many a text message requesting my presence at someone’s house, or downtown, yet they still asked and never took offense. Trips were planned around my syllabus. Many a night I spent at friend’s house with my laptop in my lap “hanging out”. BEST FRIENDS EVER. I am back!!! Let’s hang out!!
Graduation day was great; I didn’t walk with the first degree because it didn’t feel like it was over. This degree, I walked and it was the final stamp on the hard work I did.
Funny story about this pic - see how big my smile is...well, that yellow card in my hand has my name on it, and is how I get my name announced to walk across the stage - that is my 2nd one... I left the original on my seat!!! I got in line over there and realized when I set my program and phone on the chair I left the card! I may have freaked for a second, but they are smarter then we are, and had people with blank ones walking up and down the line for people like me :-D I got a new card, and the guy behind me made a joke about it, and all was well!
3 years of hard work, countless hours of reading and writing but I am finished. I have 2 master’s degrees and I am ready to change the world.
My Aunt hosted us all back at her house after the ceremony for some YUMMY food, and family time, and a fantastic cookie cake (my only dessert request!)
** All pictures from the talented Eric Mendelson Photography