You’ve stumbled upon my psychological outlet – my personal form of therapy. At this point, I’m not sure whether I should congratulate you or apologize. I imagine that will be sorted out in the future.
So, a little about me. I’m a PhD student at a Big 10 midwestern university. I’m studying Political Science, and coming off of the 2016 presidential election – I have a lot of research material. Oh, and I am also a mom of 5 young children.
What’s that you say? I’m crazy? Yes…I am completely aware of that.
I would have to be to willingly take on this type of a challenge. What in the hell compelled me to do this? Fear. That’s the most simple answer. In 2013, I experienced a year of marital discord so fierce that I had to evaluate my options. I had 5 children (the youngest just one at that time), and I had been a stay at home mom since 2005. If I wanted to leave a bad situation – what would I do? I had never finished my degree and the thought of being an administrative assistant again made me sick to my stomach. I decided that November that it was time to go back to school. January 2014 I returned to my former undergraduate university in the great state of Tennessee to finish what I had started in 1999.
I didn’t have lofty ambitions. I just wanted to go back and finish my Communications (Public Relations) degree and call it a day….er….couple of years. Because I was admitted so late, I had to take whatever classes were left, and one core class – American National Government at 8:00 in the freaking morning with some professor whose name was clearly unpronouncable – was my best option.
That class forced me to change my major to Political Science. It was perfect for me in every single way. From January 2014 to December 2015 (when I graduated magna cum laude thank you very much) I took a total of 8 classes from that professor. I was going to be content to have my bachelor’s degree; however, one day he sat down with me and said “You ARE going to graduate school, right?”
I had never even considered it. Not even for a minute. How would I – me – the woman with 5 kids, who never felt smart enough or good enough, who had never finished her degree – go to grad school?!?!? I was certain he was insane. He then said that I really needed to go. Class after class, he would assure me that I was good enough – and not just good enough – that I was better than good enough.
I made the decision to go to grad school and get my PhD (a 5 year program straight from a bachelors) at the one University I had never in my wildest dreams considered attending. Why did I want this particular university in a state I had never even visited? Because they have basically the god of Congressional research and two of the gods of bio-politics. Plus, they have this amazing lab where I can do research and scare the crap out of people in the name of science.
I applied, I was accepted. I was not only accepted, but I was funded. I received full funding from the start. I was also awarded the university’s most prestigious fellowship. I was given a generous stipend to live on. They basically rolled out the red carpet for me, as if this was some sort of crazy dream. But it wasn’t a dream. It was reality. So here I am now – in the middle of the United States, a PhD student and a mom.