how to survive your first week in graduate school

  1. BREATHE.
    Remember that even though you’ve experienced 4 years of college, graduate school is a new experience.  Amidst learning a new schedule, meeting new people, figuring out professors’ expectations, and completing loads of assignments, I have to take a moment to myself each day to pause and just breathe.  Some days just stopping to catch my breath, counting the number of slow inhales and exhales, relaxes me.  Graduate school is stressful, but there’s something about consciously breathing in and out that reminds me that I’m alive!  I’m going to make it!  It’s a great way to pause and refocus before moving on to the next task in a list of many.
  2. SLEEP.
    Gone are the days of staying up until 1 or 2am and sleeping until 10 or 11am.  Gone.  Now, 12am is a late bedtime for me, and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 is a luxury.  Honestly, I’m more okay with that than I thought I would be.  Completing tasks in the morning and early afternoon gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Waiting the night before an assignment was due never gave me that.
    Sleeping on a regular schedule actually reduces stress.  Yes, I know that people have told me this for years, but I’m finally realizing it.  Perhaps I’m a slow learner at times, but now that I’ve got this routine down, I feel indescribably better.  Sleep is now something that I look forward to, as opposed to a burden.  Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in graduate school.  The days will be long and miserable after a poor night’s sleep.coffee
  3. EAT.
    …don’t just eat–eat well.  Okay, okay, so I’m still trying to cut out those sodas at dinner and the fast food junk when I’m in a jam.  BUT eating well boosts energy and overall attitude.  Snacks that are high in protein have become a staple for me.  I keep almonds in my desk drawer at work; I’ll throw some low-sodium jerky in my purse for a snack; greek yogurt with fruit and granola is quickly becoming a favorite; and peanut butter will always be my protein comfort food.  I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and energy level on days when I forget my snacks.  Nobody wants a tired, grumpy graduate student, so handy snacks are a must.
    Oh, and breakfast is ALWAYS a good idea.  My Keurig is great, but the caffeine from the coffee is not going to last.  Muffins, breakfast bars, fruit–a must.  I never thought I’d become a believer in breakfast, but I’ve been converted.
  4. READ.
    Do the assignments.  Do them ahead of time.  Plan every hour of every day and squeeze in reading time whenever possible.  I print out articles and carry them around in my purse.  I carry my books to the office and read between appointments.  I read over breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner.  I read constantly, it feels like.  Sometimes the professors cover the material and sometimes they talk about something entirely different.  Either way, completing the reading gives me a better idea of what to expect in class and enables me to answer questions and discuss things with the class.

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That’s the best advice I have, and just to be honest, I typed it out mostly for my own benefit.  My lifestyle changed drastically in the past three weeks, and it’s a good change.  This post will serve as a reminder to keep it up when I feel like giving in.

My first couple of weeks of class have been stressful, it’s true, but they have been overwhelmingly good.  Even though the work is never-ending, I am thankful to finally be able to focus on school psychology.  I’d rather read 5 articles and upwards of 10 chapters a week about school psychology than have a smaller load of gen. ed. classes.

my first week in Waco

Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA
Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a week.  We have been in Texas for over a week, and it still hardly seems real.
On Thursday afternoon, my parents and I began the 13-hour drive to Waco around 1pm.  We arrived around 1:30am and headed straight to bed.  Friday morning we were up and at ’em.  We got the key to my beautiful house and started moving things in right away.  That afternoon we made our first trip in Texas to the nearest IKEA, and when we returned Dad and I put together my new bed.  We spent the rest of the weekend getting me settled in, buying groceries and the like.

Tuesday night, the ladies from my cohort enjoyed an evening getting to know each other.  We would have invited the guys, but they hadn’t joined our Facebook group at that point.  We met and spent time chatting about ourselves, where we’re from, and what we’re doing here now.  Spending some time together helped us to feel comfortable as we navigated the orientations that followed.

First we experienced the Graduate School orientation together, followed by Baylor’s Educational Psychology department orientation.  There we met several of the faculty and most of the first year students in the Ed. Psych department.  On Thursday, all 7 of us introduced ourselves to one another and to our professors at our School Psychology orientation.  We learned more about the program before heading off to a local eatery for lunch.  There, we shared some good ole Texas barbecue.  After lunch we learned more about Baylor’s Autism Resource Center, known to us now as the BARC.

When we were done navigating orientations as a group, we split up on Friday as my roommate and I headed to our graduate assistantship orientations.  There we learned about Baylor’s Academic Success Center, where I will spend 20 hours a week working with students to provide them with resources for success here at Baylor.  (Meanwhile, I will need your prayers for this part of my endeavor.)

In other news, I can find the following locations without my GPS:
My house
Baylor
Cason’s house
HEB (the grocery store)
Walmart
The mall
& various restaurants
Needless to say, I’ve got the necessities down.

We’ve been in Texas over a week and I’ve already met over 20 new people and visited about 6 local eateries, and this is just the beginning.  Next up: a recap of my first week in grad school!

and the countdown continues

THREE WEEKS…and the excitement is currently overwhelming.  I get excited/overwhelmed and cry at everything.  I don’t sleep.  It’s going to feel like the night before Christmas for the next few weeks, and honestly it may get a little ridiculous.  I feel like a hormonal teenager, but I’m honestly just super excited.

This week everyone in my cohort found out their graduate assistantship positions.  By the grace of God and extreme devotion and hard work from our program director (and potentially others, behind the scenes), everyone in our cohort has 100% tuition remission for the fall and spring!  That means we pay nothing but fees for our first year in grad school!  If you don’t believe me, here’s the email:
TR

In other exciting news, I got my first book for grad school today!  Along with my professor, this book will teach me all about the DAS-II…don’t ask me what that is.  Just kidding…it’s a “psychological assessment instrument” (aka, a test) that measures certain cognitive abilities for children from the ages of about 2-17 years; at least, that’s what I gather from the first page. 😉 Here’s a photo of me with my happy face and my new book:
DASbook

I think I’ve really found where I’m supposed to be.  I’m ready to get to Texas.  I’m ready to start learning.  I’m ready for the next chapter.  I don’t doubt that it will be difficult.  I don’t doubt that it will take work.  I do hope, though, that for the most part it ends up being fun work, and I do believe that it will all be worth it.  I forgot how much I love to learn, and I’m just ready to get back in the groove.  I’m ready to have more of a schedule.  I’m ready for everything…except the rest of the packing that I still have to do.  Oh, and the drive.  I’m not ready for the 13-hour drive.  Other than that, let’s get this show on the road!

 

a big “to-do” for baylor

Back when I thought I was going to China, I had a to-do list that I was updating fairly regularly here on athousandnewpaths.  (Sidenote: If you haven’t read about where the title for my blog originated, check it out here.)  Well I thought that I created a Baylor to-do list to replace the list for China, but I can’t seem to find it.  So, here it is:

Finalize my sell, donate, & keep piles for my room at home
Extensive cleaning and organizing of room at home
Sell items
Donate items

Pack winter clothes
Sell/donate clothes & shoes I no longer wear
Organize summer clothes
Pack dishes

Pack books
Pack mementos, crafts, & miscellaneous
Sew a canopy for my new bed/room

Register for classes
Order books
Pay bill online
Email mentor
Add class schedule to new Lilly planner

Add GA schedule to new Lilly planner (after receiving GA schedule)
Create a budget

Take my dog, Georgia, to get her yearly vaccinations
Take Georgia to the groomer
Find/purchase a small dog crate

Visit dentist
Check all refills for prescriptions

Buy more contacts

Change addresses
Bank accounts
Get car oil changed and tires rotated and balanced

Compile a list of freezer and crock pot meals
Purchase another crock pot

This seems like a long list of things left to do in less than four weeks, but I’m pretty confident that I can manage it!  Cason and I are getting very excited about moving to Texas.  It gets more and more real every day!  I will keep you updated!

Updated: 8/5/13–Only a few things left to do and just a few for days left to do it!
Updated: 8/13/13–I can’t believe the big move is almost here! I finally compiled a list of crockpot meals, which will help tremendously when I do my first round of grocery shopping at the end of this week. I’ve also succumb to the fact that some things on this list will need to be completed IN TEXAS. That’s actually rather exciting!

a class-y edition of baylor updates

Register for classes–CHECK! (This is the class-y part of the update 😉
Set up direct deposit to receive money from Baylor–CHECK!
Craft for new room–CHECK!
Planted succulents for new room–CHECK!

Productivity was at an all-time high this week.  Something about spending a week away on vacation makes me want to come home and be as productive as possible.  I’ve done enough this week for the past two weeks, I hope.  While it may not seem like much at first glance, I checked off some major tasks for the summer.

Registering for classes was not quite the nightmare that it was at Mercer, but there were still unknown registration holds to keep me waiting all afternoon.  Everything worked out, though, and I finally registered for courses in statistics, ethics of school psychology, testing, and exceptional children. Let’s take a moment to pause and praise since I no longer have to take unnecessary gen-ed courses!  I made a cute little schedule, and I will be adding hours for my graduate assistantship and hours at the BARC to it soon enough.  (The BARC is the Baylor Autism Resource Center.)

scheduleA

I’m decorating my room in Waco with a travel theme, which means maps, maps, and more maps!  This week I covered some light switch plates and outlet covers with some maps using ModPodge.  I also updated a cork/magnet board with some maps.  I added a diamond with washi tape to represent ADPi!  I thought it turned out really well.  I’m still thinking of what to do for the magnets, though.

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I also finally jumped on the bandwagon and planted some succulents, thanks to Cason’s help.  I used an old tin that I got from a thrift store, drilled some holes in the bottom for extra drainage, and planted a small cactus and three types of succulents.  I will have to add a photo later.

I’m getting super excited about moving to Texas, and keeping busy helps the time pass more quickly.  Busy is exactly what I will be for the next several weeks.  This week I am taking engagement pictures, going on vacation to the beach, and attending both bridal and baby showers.  I will be attending weddings of four friends from RUF in college the first two weekends in August.  Busy, busy with loads of wonderful things.  I suppose I will find time to pack somewhere in there, but that will come.

Also, another update that I almost forgot: Cason found a place to live that’s within his budget!  What a blessing!  Well, I will be back when I have more updates!

 

baylor is getting closer

While several Baylor updates have probably popped up in your newsfeed over the months, this one is perhaps the best.  I hope that once you read it, you will agree with me.

Baylor University
Baylor University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gosh I thought I had posted my Baylor happenings more often, but since I haven’t there will be lots to include in this post.

1st. Housing:
I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN WACO, TX.  Praise!  I will be living with two second-year students and another first-year student (like myself) in a house that we are renting together.  Oh, and it’s fabulous! I absolutely hate carpet (allergies, asthma, and whatnot), and this house has ZERO square feet of carpet.  Hallelujah!  Yes, I get overly excited about floors.  It has stained concrete floors, which are tons nicer than they sound.  I have my own bedroom with a cute little nook by the window for my desk.  Hooray for natural lighting in my workspace.  It’s the little things that we have to get excited about, people.  I’ll be sharing a bathroom with my fellow first-year, and perhaps next year when the second-years move out then we can move into the rooms with their own bathrooms.  The kitchen is HUGE.  Like I could probably put my pet elephant in there and he would have room to do a dance…if I had a pet elephant, that is.

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2nd. Graduate Assistantship (GA):
First of all, the abbreviation GA for graduate assistantship confuses the mess out of me, seeing as my home state is also GA, for Georgia. I’ll use the abbreviation, however, and just pray you don’t get as confused as I do.  Now to the good stuff!  On May 9th (I remember the date because that was also the day my best friend got engaged and I took secret photos.  See engagement photos.), I had a phone interview with the sweetest lady from Baylor’s Office of Academic Support Programs.  Well, I’ll say that I anticipated an interview.  What I received was a 20 minute phone call highlighting the details of the program and welcoming me on board.  Needless to say, I got the GA position, which is, according to Dr. Robinson, a “coveted GA position.”
As an academic mentor I will work with at-risk students to monitor their academic progress and offer support and encouragement as they adjust to college life.  I will work 20 hours a week, meeting with about 35-40 students weekly.  I have my own office and a huge support team.  I cannot even begin to say how encouraging my interview was.  It got me even more excited for everything that is in store at Baylor.

3rd. Finances:
Well if that paragraph about my GA wasn’t enough of a blessing, the following week I received this email:
assistantshipmoney

Tuition remission means I don’t have to pay for 24 hours of tuition this year.  Considering I am only taking 24 hours of class per week this year, I’d say that’s the best financial offer I could have received.

I know that I’ve accomplished nothing on my own.  I am truly in awe of how greatly God has blessed me.  I could not have done this by myself, and I have not presumed to believe that I could.  I know that I would have failed miserably without the Lord directing my paths and blessing me with wonderful family, friends, and instructors to also help me along the way.  That’s why all of this goes back to Him.  He is the true reason for every educational, financial, and emotional provision in my life.  I know that He has given me these things in order that I use them to shine His light on this world.

I will say also that I am honestly amazed.  I have spent too much of the past 2 years underestimating the things I can do with the help of God, my family, my professors, and my friends.  I have been attacked by the enemy and been led to believe that I was once alone in all of this.  I don’t mean to get super spiritual on you, but that’s the truth.  I’m coming to realize that life is too short to waste time worrying about it, especially when you know that the Lord has a plan.  I’m thankful for that.

my visit to Baylor

Y’all, let me just say that I am thrilled about my pick for grad school.  I flew out to Waco, Texas to visit Baylor this past weekend, and it was fabulous!  I’m gonna post some pictures and let them pretty much speak for themselves! (Okay, okay, you know I’m gonna add some captions in there!)

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I still think Mercer’s bear statue has this one beat, but at least this lil bear has a name! The beautiful building in the background is the 9-yr-old Baylor Sciences Building.
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Had to take a photo under a Baylor sign in my Baylor t-shirt. The fam all wore Baylor shirts on the way home. Matching, how cute!
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How excited do I look to be going to Baylor? I am HUGE on school spirit, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be attending Baylor in the fall.
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Yet another photo under the BU sign. Can’t have too many, in my opinion!
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In front of the house I will be living in with two second-year students! It’s absolutely gorgeous inside and out!
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Fabulous Mexican restaurant in downtown Waco!
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On the Burleson Quad in front of Burleson Hall, which currently houses the BARC, short for Baylor Autism Resources Center.
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Last, but certainly not least is the best photo I got of one of the two REAL LIVE BAYLOR BEARS! Not sure if this is Joy or Lady, but she is absolutely stunning. Wouldn’t you agree?

How I decided on a graduate school

  1. I decided on a program.
    I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but I decided to pursue another passion in college, psychology.  Along the way I realized that I still wanted to be in a school setting and make a difference in the lives of children.  Then I discovered the field of school psychology and I realized that I was made for it.  So I looked for graduate programs in that field and to my excitement found a 3-year Specialist program.  This would give me a year of full instruction, a year of instruction and work in the schools, and finally an internship year.  When I first realized I would have to go to grad school, I honestly was not thrilled about more school.  However, this program seemed to be tailored to my needs in that it would allow me to actually start doing what school psychologists do under the supervision of professors and other school psychologists.  Plus, more education in a field that I am thrilled about is actually appealing to me now.
  2. I decided on a region.
    When I was young, I was a homebody.  I never ventured far from my parents.  As I’ve gotten older, my comfort zone has expanded somewhat, and I knew that I still wanted to be in the south for graduate schools.  I looked at schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
  3. I applied to most of the schools with my program in the region.
    I applied to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, University of Alabama,  and Baylor University.  School psychology is growing but still relatively new, so it’s not a program that everyone has.  I know it looks like I was pretty selective in where I applied, but I honestly had pretty slim pickings.  The good thing though is that these are all incredibly amazing programs.
  4. I interviewed with schools via Skype and in person.
    Georgia Southern accepted me without an interview, but I Skyped with three of the faculty from Baylor, and then I did an all day interview with the five faculty at Appalachian State.
  5. I made a pros and cons list.
    This is somewhat of an inside joke for anyone who saw the pros and cons list.  One school had all the pros.  We will just leave it at that
  6. I picked the program that was the best fit for me…
    …and that program is BAYLOR UNIVERSITY!  I am so pleased to announce that I have been accepted to their school psychology program for this fall, and I have accepted their offer.  (Many of you know this already, but it feels more official now that it is on the blog!)  I will actually be visiting next week, and I am thrilled!

JWalkerBaylorChevron

I was so excited once I finally accepted their offer that I could not sleep.  I stayed up making poster prints like the one above to hang in my apartment in TEXAS.  This feels like an absolute dream come true, but looking back I realize that I worked my whole life (up until this point) for this.  The goal has always been to do well in school, find a job that I am passionate about, and do what it takes to get there.  This is just another stepping stone along that path, and I am so blessed by and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.  I recognize that this achievement cannot be credited to my work alone.  I needed the help and support of my parents, family, friends, and teachers.  Who I am and what I have achieved is a combination of my experiences and interactions with others, and I don’t take that for granted for one second.  Finally, I must acknowledge that my Creator and God had his hand over all of this.  I can look back and say that there were definitely times along the way when I wanted to give up, and I would not have made it through without my relationship with Christ as the foundation of my life.  All the glory goes to Him and the way He has placed people and experiences in my life to form me into the woman I am today.

tears of joy

Tears are funny things, aren’t they?  We all cry for a variety of reasons, but never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy in one week.  Over the past year I have cried…a LOT.  I was struggling to get over past relationships, battling depression, and oftentimes just trying to make it through to the next day.  So I’m very familiar with tears of sadness.  However, it has been a while since I cried from pure joy.  As a matter of fact, I believe it has been quite a while since I actually experienced pure joy.  I’m sure that was a contributing factor to the tears that accompanied the joy that I experienced this week.

I’d like to go into some detail about each event that triggered a waterfall of joyful tears this week, but I’ll start by listing the three occurrences:

  1. Becca’s wedding on Saturday
  2. A new relationship that God has blessed me with
  3. Good news about graduate school

  1. BeccaOn Saturday my friend, Becca, got married to an amazing Christian guy, and I cried from the moment I saw her start to walk down the aisle and pretty much throughout the wedding ceremony.  Becca and I have been in an S-group together since my sophomore year in college.  S-groups were implemented at Mercer RUF shortly after I started attending, and they are intended to be “sanctification groups” or accountability groups.  S-group was a place where the five of us sophomore girls could share our lives together and be led by an older RUF student.  We read scripture, prayed together, and shared the happenings of our lives with each other.  I don’t think I realized how much my S-group really impacted my life at college until I left, and I certainly did not realize how closely I had bonded with these women until I practically cried through all of Becca’s wedding.  I had experienced the ups and downs of her life through her recollections during each of our weekly meetings, and I have always been encouraged by her unwavering faith in Christ even through the toughest and most unimaginable moments in life.  It was no surprise to me that God blessed her with a man rooted in the Word and ready and willing to love Becca as Christ loves the Church.  Becca & Phil’s wedding exemplified all that a Christian wedding should stand for; it was a beautiful public profession of their commitment to one another in Christ…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Even reflecting on this beautiful union or trying to communicate it to others brought tears to my eyes.  So that was my first joyful cry of the week.
  2. CasonThen on Thursday I had a date with
    Cason, my now-boyfriend.  We have been dating for about a month now, but it seems like I have known him forever.  We met back in high school through a program called Teen Advisors (TAs).  He was homeschooled, but he came to my high school for TA sessions.  We knew each other, and we had plenty of mutual friends, but we weren’t close at the time. I started going to a young adult ministry called The Door when I was at home from college on Christmas and summer breaks, and we reconnected through that.  Over a week ago we went on a picnic in the park, and he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I was more than ready and willing to enter into an exclusive relationship, but I was hesitant about one thing: Facebook.  Cason had already met my parents when he picked me up for our first date, and I thought it only right and respectful to grant his parents the same courtesy before publicly broadcasting our relationship to the world.  (We’re getting closer to the point, don’t worry!)

    So, Thursday evening I went on a date with Cason to meet his parents, and I was very encouraged by the experience.  It allowed me to learn more about how Cason and his family relate, and it was evident that he comes from a family that cares deeply about God and one another.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet such Godly parents who lovingly raised such a respectful, “faithful,” Christ-centered young man.  While sitting on the couch with Cason on Thursday night talking over the evening, I was overwhelmed by all of these thoughts….and it made me cry tears of joy.  How embarrassing to sit on a couch in front of your boyfriend of a month and overflow with joyful tears, but he completely understood, which made me feel that much more thankful and blessed to have him in my life.  Two months ago if you asked me  where I thought I would be, I never would have said, “In a relationship,” but it has been my experience that God always has better plans than I could imagine.  For that I am eternally thankful.GodIsDoingANewThing

  3. Finally, on Friday I received an unofficial email from Baylor expressing their “SIGNIFICANT interest” in me attending their School Psychology grad program.  WHAT?!?! WAIT, ME!?!?  I re-read the email at least five times…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Throughout this whole graduate school application process I have continually reminded myself not to get my hopes up, obviously for no good reason.  I think I built such a wall that I did not allow myself to believe that my dreams and risks would actually see positive results.  Even when I received the email, I found myself thinking, “This is too good to be true,” and I had to quickly remind myself that I love and serve a God who is ever faithful.  I’m constantly reminded that he brought me to the specific profession of school psychology for a reason, and it is even more clear to me now that school psychology is where I am supposed to be, as God continues to remove barriers on my path to becoming a school psychologist.  He has put my mind at ease so many times over the course of this application process and constantly reminded me that my future is not really mine at all, but His.  I am so eager to continue on this path to becoming a school psychologist via this new avenue of grad school.

I am truly overwhelmed with all of the blessings that God has placed in my life, especially now that I have enough perspective to look back and realize that He’s had his hand over all of these events in my life even before I could have imagined they were possibilities for me.  Even during this last year when I had practically given up on so many things in my life and at times wondered what God was doing, He was working in my life to bring fulfillment and thus bring even more glory to His name.  I am beyond blessed and overwhelmed with joy and forever thankful to eternally serve a God who is always faithful.

SpiritLeadMe

limbo is real…

…I know because I’m stuck here now…in limbo, I mean.

Truthfully, that’s why I haven’t stopped by to write in a little while.  Everything seems to be in limbo right now, and I was trying to wait for some things to fall into place before I wrote about them.  Anyhow, things seem to be moving at a turtle’s pace in most areas, and I’m still playing the waiting game.  So, I decided to just go ahead and post an update of everything that is going on.  After all, this blog is supposed to be reflection of all of the paths in my life, not just the ones where everything is moving just as I would like.  So here we go…

China
I still have not received my official invitation to come and work in China.  I cannot apply for my visa until I have that, so I’m still in limbo until we get the letter.  We did however contact the program to see if I would still be eligible for the monthly stipend now that I will not be there for 5 months.  Good news on that is that I WILL be eligible to receive the same monthly stipend.  Praise for all of that working out.  However, I’m still undecided as to whether I will be going or not.  I guess it really depends on how long I will be able to go.  I know that any amount of time would be a life-changing experience, but I’m really starting to wonder if now is the right time.  Don’t get me wrong, I would still love to go.  The situation has just changed, and I think the wisest thing to do right now is to re-evaluate all of my options to determine if there is a more suitable choice for the time being.

Graduate School
I have been hesitant to post about my graduate school application process (even though I’ve already shared some with you), mostly because I have this fear of public failure.  To post about the schools I applied to and got interviews with would invariably be followed by a post about the schools that I did and did not get into.  BUT! I’ve decided that I’m getting over that fear, and I’m going to be very real about this whole process.
I’ve applied to Baylor, received an invitation to interview, had a Skype interview, and now I am waiting to hear back, hopefully next week.
Appalachian State wants me to come and interview on March 22nd.  Obviously I’ve been in limbo about this interview because I have been in limbo about China.  If I go to China, I’m not sure what happens with the interview, but if I don’t go to China, then I will head up there for the interview and see what’s up.
I also got an email from Georgia Southern saying that I was accepted into their program.  So, no matter what happens I will be going to grad school!  That’s exciting!
I am excited to hear from all of these grad schools.  This process has certainly been an adventure, but I am glad that it will be coming to a close soon.  It feels good to be much closer to completing this process at this point.  I know that actually attending graduate school is going to be another time of growth and learning more about myself, but for right now I am thankful that the growth that comes through the application process is almost done.  It really has been an intense process, but I’ve gained a lot of confidence as well as humility, and I am very thankful for that.
Also, I can’t help but wonder what my professors said in their recommendation letters.  Whatever it was, though, I am very thankful.  I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far without their support and encouragement.  It really means a lot to me.

There is one other area that also feels like it’s in limbo right now…but in a good way.  I won’t say much about that, but I will leave you with these photos:

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cupcake