Grad school!

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I am officially done with week 2 of graduate school! I basically dove right in last week and have been going nonstop ever since.

For those of you who haven’t talked to me lately, I’m pursuing my Masters in Public Administration (MPA), which is like a hybrid of an MBA and a Master’s in Public Policy. Basically, I’m learning skills that will help me pursue a career in the public sector, whether in government or in nonprofits.

So why did I choose this degree? My liberal arts education gave me a great foundation for my career–strong writing skills, presentation skills, research and analysis skills, etc. However, through my AmeriCorps VISTA service, I realized that I needed more quantitative skills in order to move forward in my career. It was also the right timing to go back to school in my personal life.

Right now I’m taking four courses:

  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Intro to Public Policy
  • Quantitative Methods (ie STATS)
  • Analytic Tools for Public Problems (ie MICROECONOMICS)

Since I haven’t had any math in 6 years, save for when I was prepping for the GRE, it’s been a little tough. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready. Much readier than I would have been if I’d come straight out of undergrad.

I’m also working 15 hours per week as a graduate assistant/work study student .I’m mainly coordinating events, like open houses and the department speaker series, but I’m also helping screen applicants for a senior faculty search. Come winter I’ll probably help out with recruitment for students for the program. (Yes, my VISTA Leader skills translate! That was a relief).

In other news, my family vacation to Disney World rocked! I got Minnie Mouse ears. They’re sequined. And awesome. The end.

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CONNECTED!

Guys, I FINALLY scrounged up enough cash to buy a new computer! I’m writing this from my brand new MacBook Pro! I’ve wanted a Mac for years, since I first went to college actually, so I’m basically in geeky heaven right now.  I will finally be able to blog more regularly seeing as I won’t be sharing a computer with my entire family any more.

I digress.

August was a pretty good month for me, all things considered. I’ll give you a quick TL;DR of my life at the moment.

Last year, Freddy won a smoker at a fundraiser that he organized for one of his fellow firefighters. He finally busted it out two weeks ago, and the results were beyond amazing.

Smoking meat takes a long time, but oh my god, the brisket he smoked was out of this world. I’m not really a big red meat or pork person generally, but I really loved the brisket and even the pork shoulder. Not to mention spending all that time with my friends was great.  We’re all in different directions so it’s great when everyone is all in one place.

Last weekend, I went to my cousin Matthew’s eighth birthday party. It’s so weird to see him and Andrew grow up. In some respect I’ll always see them as babies, but they are both so grown up right now! I had a great time spending time with my family and seeing some extended family members I typically only see on holidays.

Finally, work has been busy-good. I’ve been going on six week site visits for our July cohort of VISTAs. The purpose of the site visit is to make sure the VISTAs are doing well at work and in life. I have a list of questions I ask them and I get to look at their office space, etc.

My function is to act as a support system for the VISTAs throughout their year of service, so the site visits are a really good way to get to know the VISTAs on a one-to-one basis.  I’ve always enjoyed the mentoring aspect of the job’s I’ve had (coughkimballcough), so the site visits were pretty fun for me.  I am not their supervisor, so I don’t have authority over the day -to-day aspects of their jobs, but I am there to help troubleshoot and ensure that their service years go smoothly.

Speaking of work, I’m off to Leader training in Chicago on Tuesday! My supervisor, who had the Leader gig before me, says that Leader Training is a lot more professional-development focused than regular VISTA PSO, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve also never been to Chicago, and as a VISTA, I don’t really make enough money to travel extensively. All in all, it should be a good time.

ALSO: I got my business cards last week. I was promised cards last year but never got them (and let me just tell you, giving people your contact info on index cards or post-it notes doesn’t feel very classy or professional), so I was stupid excited to actually get some. Now, I don’t know how I’m going to use them all in a year….

back home baby

So many of my friends from Holy Cross are out doing great things and changing the world. Carrie is doing reconciliation work in England, Rebecca is teaching at a school in Harlem, Margaretmary just got back from a great environmental research internship in Oregon, Kate is teaching science aboard a schooner in Long Island Sound, Colleen is off to Oxford next week to begin her graduate program in medieval studies, and finally, Miriam is moving to intern in India for the next year. I’m so proud of all of them. Everyone is moving on to bigger and better things in exciting new places.  Me? I have a great VISTA placement…but I haven’t relocated to an exciting new location.

Yes, that’s right. I’m back in Wallingford, where I’ve lived all my life.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am truly grateful for my parents. I moved back home after graduation, and they have been incredibly supportive of my goals and job change for the next year.  My parents have always been incredibly supportive of me. I don’t have to worry about paying for food or rent (very helpful for my finances as my VISTA stipend does not go very far), and there’s always someone at home, be it my parents or brother or the dog, if i need someone to talk to.

That being said, there have been some challenges associated with moving back home.  At home, I have one obstacle that I never had to face at college.

Yes.  At home, I have to battle my brother for attention, food, and, most importantly, the television.

When I left for college, I was 19 and my younger brother Ryan was 12.  As the baby of the family, Ryan was easily pushed around by his two sisters (Kaitlin and me). If Ryan attempted to do something that annoyed either one of us, we could easily frighten him into submission.

Unfortunately for me, Ryan is now at least 5’10, seven inches taller and much, much stronger than me.  Now, when I try to force him off the good TV so I can watch Teen Mom on DVR, he simply doesn’t budge because he no longer fears me.

Not to mention that we have very different tastes in entertainment.  My brother likes playing war-like video games (stuff in the vein of Call of Duty but not actually CoD), and I like watching trashy MTV reality shows and Criminal Minds.

Plus he likes to eat my leftover pad thai.  That just ain’t right.