Lessons I Learned from Earning my Master’s Degree

Thanks to a recent shift in priorities and a social media hiatus, I have had a lot more time to write… Lessons I Learned from Earning my Master’s Degree was written in December of 2016 (ummm, I’ve been busy… better late than never). It’s finally seeing the light of day and that’s cool because life lessons are timeless things. Enjoy…


It’s a freezing December day, but the Breslin Center is packed and I am sweating under my cap and gown. I look around and I cannot believe this day is here. This journey that I have been on is coming to an end and I have so many emotions about it. My family is with my little 2 month old Baby B in the stands. I think of him and smile… And feel my milk come in. SHIT. While part of me is so sad this part of my journey is coming to an end, my body reminds me that it’s time. The next chapter is here in full force and it’s time to raise our tiny human.

D98C2027-DB9D-4447-8987-849DF2A33443The commencement speaker (whose name I cannot remember #MommyBrain) talked about how he became an accidental surgeon. It wasn’t his intended plan in life. I write this having my life echo that exact sentiment. When I earned my Bachelor’s degree a decade ago, I thought I was finished with my formal education. Yes, I believe you never really stop learning but for all intents and purposes I was finished learning in the classroom… Or so I thought. (There are many points in life where I believe God must watch us and just laugh and shake his head. For me, this is probably one of them.) During my Master’s pursuit, I solidified my path to becoming an accidental educator. I write this now having a Master’s in Higher Education and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed. In a nutshell, I found my calling working with college students and helping them become the best versions of themselves in and out of the classroom.

Working full-time and earning a degree isn’t for the faint of heart. Throw in growing a human, building a house and being a wife, and you have your work cut out for you. I learned a wealth of fascinating things in the classroom these past couple of years. Theories and practices that I will carry throughout my career. In addition to that, there are a multitude of things I learned outside the classroom that have become imbedded in who I am. The highlights of the journey are what follow…FullSizeRender 6

EVERYTHING WORTH DOING IN LIFE NEEDS A SOLID HASHTAG
By solid hashtag what I really mean is a strong “why”. Hashtags began as kind of a joke with my people. It started with the Fallon/Timberlake hashtag skit, (if you have zero idea what I am referring to… HERE also, you’re welcome.) then grew limbs and took on a life of its own. If a story is good enough to tell, it better end with a good hashtag or three as the punchline. A good hashtag can motivate you even on the worst days. #ThePursuit was mine for my Master’s and it carried me through the toughest days. A good hashtag can become your why- which is the most important of all things. In everything you do, I am a firm believer that you must know your why. Another way of saying this is come up with a damn good hashtag and use it everywhere to motivate the pants off of you. Times will get hard and you will lose the will to keep going and for these times you need to remember your why. #FindYourHashtag

WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Sir Isaac Newton was onto something here. Though I am on this journey, I am not on this journey alone. My success is not mine alone- it is because of the educators and researchers who came before me, and the family and friends who stand beside me. I don’t believe in coincidences- we were born for this time in history. We are here to make discoveries, be successful in our endeavors and leave our little spot in the world better than we found it. “If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” #YouWereBornForThisMoment

BE A SELFISH JERK
You know when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you incase you lose cabin pressure to put the mask on yourself before you help the person next to you… This is just like that. Sometimes, to succeed in life in a certain season, you have to learn how to create boundaries and be selfish. Sometimes that makes you a selfish jerk. So be it. You have to learn to say “no” and “I can’t take that on right now”. You have to learn to protect your time and your resources. Life is ravenous and if you let it, it will eat away at everything you have worked so hard to build. It is up to you to protect that with a vengeance. Create boundaries and be a selfish jerk over the things you love. #BeSelfishSometimes

DON’T BE A SELFISH JERK
If you know me at all you know it’s super easy for me to dig in my heels and be a selfish jerk. My Master’s taught me how to not do that- actually, Hubbz taught me that while I was getting my Master’s. My Master’s taught me that there is a balance in life, especially in marriage, that needs to be honored. My husband selflessly supported me through this process. He did this with no complaints… Like, zero. Even when I know for myself, I would have totally complained… He didn’t. He cleaned the house. He cooked soooo many dinners. He did the grocery shopping. He took care of the yard. He got the oil changes and filled the gas tanks. He shoveled the snow. He did the laundry. He did all of this (and more) while I studied and read and wrote papers for countless hours. He showed me what it meant to selflessly love another while supporting them in their endeavors with zero question. He allowed me to be privy to the blessing of his selfless love. #LessonsFromHubbz

SHOW GRATITUDE
I am a firm believer that in anything worth doing in life, it takes a village to help you accomplish it. At the end of the journey, after I walked across the stage, it was up to me to thank the people that helped me get there and make it through. The ones who planted the seeds, the ones who encouraged the process, the ones who prayed over us when things got hard, the ones who helped me see it through to the end. Gratitude is everything in life. When people talk about an attitude of gratitude, it’s a real thing that shouldn’t be downplayed. On our journeys through life, the most important thing we can do is have gratitude for and acknowledge the people who have helped us get to where we are going. Zig Ziglar knew what he was talking about when he said “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” #BeGrateful

Find your why- the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and make it a #hashtag. Recognize that you didn’t get where you’re going alone. Be a selfish jerk over the important things. Don’t be a selfish jerk where it matters most. In everything, above all, show gratitude.

#MommywithaMasters

CheersDez cursiveslope

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2 Comments on “Lessons I Learned from Earning my Master’s Degree

  1. Yes, one feels refreshed and life falls all back together again, after taking a break from social media.
    Even though a person doesn’t look at their phone for a couple hours, it’s not the end of the world.
    Sometimes I don’t look at mine an entire wkend, 😂😂😂😂 and then wonder what I missed, nothing, except calls from my son and FaceTime from my daughters, 😩😩
    I’m always look forward to your stories and interested in what you have to say, I’m proud of you!
    Love always,
    Dad

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