We did a thing! On June 3rd, Austin and I graduated with our Master’s degrees from the University of Denver. Austin earned his Master of Social Work and I earned a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. It was a long two years for me and a long, jam packed year for Austin. The loads of writing, deadlines, sleepless nights, and personal concerns were difficult to juggle while I worked full-time and Austin interned to meet his degree requirements. But now that it’s over, we look back and are incredibly proud of ourselves and each other.
Grad school was a test of character more so than anything else. As a student of higher education, we often discussed the pervasive issues in college persistence (so meta, I know), and it helped me recognize what I needed to do to make it to June 3rd. It was great to have our families here to share this achievement with us, and it is satisfying to know that we had the grit and determination to accomplish what we set out to. Hopefully, those same traits will do us well while on the bike tour.
When I graduated from FIU as an undergrad, I was set on going to law school. Not only did I want to do it but I got in and enrolled. Many factors led to my change of heart and plans, and two days before the start of my semester as a 1L, I withdrew. I think it was the best decision for me at the time, but I wouldn’t have known that had I not taken the chance to pursue something else. Higher Ed has exposed me to so many of the dilemmas that reinforce social inequality, and that is where my passion lies. In the future, I hope to work in a capacity that integrates research to address policy concerns as they relate to higher education, and I would like to more deeply explore the nexus between higher education and social responsibility. Perhaps a doctorate is in order, since I would also like to contribute to the literature around the intricacies of AfroLatin@ identity. I am not sure exactly what my next move will be but I am sure I will figure it out, and I’ll be doing lots of reading and pondering while on tour.
Austin, on the other hand, took about six years before heading for his Masters and has been in the workforce since earning his BSW at the University of Texas. Having the practical experience really enhanced his student experience, and reinforced his decision to advance his career and continue working with children in mental health. I am always astounded by his ability to balance his personal life with his profession. It’s people like him that make a significant, tangible difference in the life of others and I admire his resilience, mindfulness, and dedication to his work. After the tour, he will be looking for positions where he can work with children in trauma-focused therapy. Hopefully, he will secure a position where he can meet the post-Master’s supervision requirements and earn his LCSW.
We have so many plans but are also eager to see how those plans change as we encounter something bigger and better. We hope to stay in Denver as long as possible (and as long as we can still afford it), and spend more time outdoors now that we will have time to do so. Here’s to embarking on this amazing journey together, learning a lot more about ourselves and each other, and returning in one piece and ready to transition into new roles as professionals in our fields. Here we go!