Friday, May 12, 2006

How Life Gets in the Way

I indicated that I researched possible institutions for obtaining my doctorate for more than a year. What I didn't tell you was that it took 2 more years before I actually enrolled in the program.

Life gets in the way.

I jumped through all the necessary hoops during the application phase. I found a Fielding professor in Denver (close to where I lived in Colorado Springs at the time), Jenny Edwards, who walked me through the process as if my success was the most important thing in her life. I began to interact with other Fielding staff, like Carmen Kuchera (admissions counselor), who made simple all the complicated and cumbersome paperwork.

And then my mother fell ill.

Any money I thought I had for this process dried up quickly as I flew back and forth to Florida to help care for my mom. She was dying of colon cancer and even with the help of Hospice, every fiber of my being became about her. I had to defer my acceptance into Fielding. . . for the time being.

But Jenny Edwards stayed in touch with me. She invited me to cluster meetings in Denver (day long meetings to help students in the area connect and gain more knowledge) and kept me in the loop and in her prayers. Sometimes she'd call just to see how I was holding up. There was no pressure to enroll. No offensive sales tactics. Just genuine concern. We entered into a friendship that I know both sustained me and kept me connected to Fielding in a real, life-changing way.

Fielding's emphasis on relationship blows my mind sometimes.

Finally, I was ready to enroll, but it had been almost 2 years since my initial acceptance, and normally that meant I had to reapply and jump through those hoops all over again. But Carmen Kuchera made sure it was as painless as possible. She kept my acceptance active all that time and led me through the final enrollment process with ease and understanding of what the last year of my life had been like.

Education is all about relationship. I've said this a thousand times - in person, on the radio, from a speaker's platform, and in my writing. Seeing it lived out on this level humbles me.

So here I am, 7 months into my doctoral program. Here's what I've noticed. Life continues to get in the way and challenges my resolve. But not just for me; for all of us. My own mentor has had to relocate temporarily because of her husband's health issues. Yet, she responds to any of my communications almost immediately, reviews any material that I send her with a fine toothed comb, and finds time to call "just because" to see how I'm handing my own life challenges. She sacrifices her time to make my time more productive. Why does she do that? I think she not only sees value in what she does, but she sees value in my future. It's about making an impact. I want to grow up to be just like her!

I've had to change jobs in order to make this thing work. I've had to discipline myself to stay motivated when no one else is here looking over my shoulder. I've had to accept financial aid. And this is only the beginning of my journey. There will be more sacrifices along the way. I hope I can be a good steward of the relationships and resources that have been afforded me.

How has life gotten in your way to your dream? Do you struggle and wonder what made you think you could do this in the first place? Are you wondering if it is the "wrong" time? Do your obstacles feel insurmountable? What will you have to sacrifice in order to pursue this dream of yours? Let us know.

Want to read from the very beginning of this journey, click here.
Oh, and don't forget my survey! Click here to take survey

Read the next step in the journey towards a doctorate.