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Grad School or Bust
(Continued from 1)

I have enjoyed the best debates and great insight with my evening pals. I cannot say that I had the same experience with my daytime peers. The other thing I have valued was the opportunity to meet people working in the various fields of social work. In my former position, I served families or elderly. Through conversations with the evening students, I have learned about the other fields. I have heard their opinions about the population, the pitfalls they encounter and their ability to cope and/or make the difference.

Another obstacle I encountered during this process was facing my own demons and personal history. Proudly this “wounded healer” attempted to show up for several volunteer projects. Try as hard as I did, I found my own “woundings” still bleeding interfering with my delivery of services. Also I found my history to be a challenge when seeking out an internship placement. Agencies I was interested in serving were not interested in me because of my history. Some program managers were afraid of me bleeding all the clients. So what did I do? I stopped to deal with any unresolved issues. In some cases, I was not able to finish the task, postponing it until I had become centered again. In other cases, I simply limped across the finish line. As a non-traditional student, I have learned to accept the less than perfect performance. Life circumstances, past and present do not always afford you the 100 percent score.

Which brings me to the most valuable lesson I have learned: it is a process. When I first came to college, I thought "I will go through the program, get my ticket (degree) punched, and be free to conquer the world." I never understood that this quest would dig deep down into my being, my psyche, my ego, my past, my present, my future. I never realized that it would break my intellect, my self-identity and re-form me as a broken vessel, ground to dirt, watered clay, returned to the potter's wheel for another turn.

Years ago, I approached my professor to assist me with gaining employment at the college. Positive I could do a certain job, I pressed the professor for a recommendation. Graciously, the professor explained that the position required a bachelor’s degree which I had not yet obtained. I don’t remember the balance of the conversation but only his words, “It’s a process.” Oh, how I had hated those words at the moment he said them to me. However, I have grown to appreciate them. I have chosen the process of higher education to transform me so I may be of greater value to myself and others. I choose to think of each credit hour, each quarter as my steps towards self-mastery within the scope of serving that purpose. The field of social work lends me that ability to serve a greater good. So through the process, I remain, grad school or bust.

Enjoying life as an empty nester, author Larraine Johnson is resting from over thirty years of parenting. She attends Ohio State University seeking her Master's in Social Work and resides in Columbus, Ohio with her West Highland Terrier, Noel.

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