I remember my mom speaking wistfully about a desire she had to attend graduate school. She was a very good student, exceptionally smart and hard working. She says she should have gone before  marriage and babies, because after those things grad school was an impossible goal for her. My mom went into teaching, receiving promotions, accolades, and a loyal following everywhere she went. She was named teacher of the year multiple years, she became department head, she presented at local, state, and national conferences. She taught at the Park City Math Institute, and she worked on a project basis as a K-12 Education Consultant at Princeton University. She accomplished all of this without her Masters, while teaching and raising a family. I always wonder what she could have done had she earned her Masters and lived beyond the age of 48.

She was the reason I decided to enroll in a Masters program…twice. This is my second time to be a graduate student at UHCL. The first time was ten years ago, but a few credits shy of graduation I took a position as a professional development trainer that required frequent travel all over the continental United States. It was a great job, but it meant I was unable to complete my program. Life, marriage, and babies happened in the intervening years and my hours expired before I knew it.

Once I secured a more geographically stable job and the University of Houston Clear Lake’s position on distance learning evolved to match my lifestyle, I started completely over again. I originally appealed the expiration of hours, but my appeal was denied. After a momentary bitterness and nashing of teeth, I reset my vision (and our family budget) to begin anew. Although I still daydream about what twenty thousand dollars could have done for my children’s own college fund, I do concede that I am a different student than I was ten years ago.

Successful completion is something I am committed to for several reasons. I love learning, so grad school feeds a need I have to be immersed in research and discussion. Also, I want to set the norm for my daughters, because if they see both parents obtain a Masters degree it will be more attainable for them. Most importantly, I hear the echo of my mom’s dream in my heart. Part of me does this for her- so her spirit will have peace.

We did it, mom.

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