If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Through out the past two years, I've tried to do just that. I found this quote about a month into my MBA program, and I've held onto it since then. I think I was waiting for the day that it would be true, the day that I would have my degree in hand. That day has finally arrived!
As of today, I am officially a Penn State alumna. I'm now better prepared to advance my career, and in turn provide more for our family. I recognize how corny that sounds, but it really is true. If there was no plan to use the degree to get further into my field and search out new opportunities, there would be no point to having it. I'm all for collecting things that you love, and while I do love learning and being in an academic environment, I think a collection of degrees would just be too much time an money. I think you can actually hear The Big Guy's sigh of relief. Now I'm set apart, in a very good way.
I'm finally going to have free time again! That's the part I'm most excited about today. I can't quite imagine what it will feel like to read anything that's not about economics and strategy and business philosophies. Chick lit and Pinterest- here I come!
But aside from that, there are several people who need to be recognized for their contribution to my success. (Cue award acceptance speech orchestra). This is probably going to get long. Just so you know.
I was blessed throughout this process to have some amazing team members. Doug, Joe, Holly, Gary, Matthew, Shaun and Fred- there is no way that I could have gotten through the past two years without you. So much of the program is team based and having team members who you trust to do their part, and do it well, is key. Being able to respect each other and recognize that the differences in your strengths is part of what makes you more effective together is also important and really makes working together much easier than it would be otherwise. Being able to walk away and consider all of your teammates friends is a wonderful surprise and actually makes some of the most difficult times in classes fun. I had fun, and I know it's because of the people who shared this experience with me.
In addition to the support of my teammates, I had a ton of support at work. Dan, Barbara, Julie, Rebecca, Keisha, and everyone else at the office- I cannot thank you enough. You've listened to me vent about professors I didn't like, assignments that threw me for a loop, and even allowed for flexibility in my time off when I panicked about school deadlines and the volume of work that happened when my responsibilities at the office ended for the day. We talk a lot about being a family at work, and I know how true that really is.
My friends and family have been kind enough over the past two years to give me room to talk about very little other than school and occasionally leave things early or step out of an event temporarily to take a skype call or finish an assignment. They've also shared that occasional glass of wine when Friday rolled around and I needed a break. Cliff, Janet, Mandy, Ashlie, Jessica, and everyone else, thank you. I know I've asked a lot, but you never hesitated and always made sure I knew that you cared and that you wanted me to do well.
My parents were, as anyone who knows them would expect, amazing. From celebrating with me when I got in to Penn State- seriously, you should have heard how excited my dad was- to making plans from day one to attend my commencement ceremony. It means so much to have their support, and to see their confidence in me. I know it helped, more than they realize. I've figured out that this is just what they do. They love unconditionally, they give nothing but support, and because it comes naturally to them they don't even realize how huge that contribution is. I never thought that grad school was out of the question. I think I always knew that some form of grad school would happen, and because of them I always knew that it could. Of course, the whole reason I considered Penn State is because that's where my dad got his MBA. He's pretty great, and I'm excited that this is one way I get to be a little more like him.
And last but certainly not least- The Big Guy. He's the one who really had to take on the brunt of everything else that needed to get done around the house when I didn't have the time to do it all and making sure that I held on to whatever shreds of sanity were left at the end of the day. He's made sure that I take breaks and that I'm not too hard on myself, something I absolutely have a tendency to be. I am my own worst critic. He's been my biggest cheerleader through everything- never doubting me even when I was doubting myself. He's put up with late nights, random grumbling and muttering as I work through assignments, extra dish duty in the kitchen, more time in front of the stove making dinner, unnecessary panic, necessary panic, me being a bit scatterbrained, me completely taking over his office space, and so much more that I know I'm forgetting. There's that scatterbrained thing. He's never complained. He's always reassured me that I was doing something great for us and for our family, and that no matter what it would all work out well in the end. Well, we're at the end, and it certainly has worked out well. I hope you know how much I love you, and how much it means to me that I never had to go through any of this alone. I'm so lucky to have you. Thank you. Thank you a million times over. I may never be able to really put into words just how much you mean to me.