Differences in Online Education – My Experience as a Student

I love learning. I love teaching and I’m a better teacher when I’m also learning. Despite a terminal degree, in my mind an additional Masters made perfect sense. I’ve put that specific degree on hold, for now, but I learned that private, non-profit is not necessarily better.

I began exploring online BSN and MSN programs several years ago. Through my employer, I could do the BSN at minimal cost but it would take at least two years because of transfer credit requirements. I didn’t want to spend two years and I was enticed by the idea that Wilkes University could get me further, faster. The admissions rep painted a picture of good instruction with superior faculty and the ability to complete the program in two years. I was looking at the MSN as my backup plan and perhaps as an opportunity to teach in a field that I love. I’ll always be a nurse, regardless of whatever else I happen to be.

I didn’t start out with the intent to ever be a nurse. I only ever wanted to be an airline pilot, but I needed a Plan B. I couldn’t get any job as a commercial pilot in 1972, other than flight instructor, and I didn’t want to do that forever. Things were tight during the oil embargo and I knew I needed some stability. Airlines weren’t hiring women and women weren’t allowed in military flight training programs. Nursing school offered me stability. I was fortunate to have fabulous instructors who inspired me and I embraced this new direction with a passion. After my RN, I earned a bachelors in general students, perhaps with the most undergraduate credits ever, then I earned a Masters in Health Policy and Administration from Mercer University.   I was fortunate enough to retire at age 43 when my company was purchased by Cigna, and I started a flight school. But that’s another story for another day. I’ve been teaching online since 2007 and I love it. I love my students and my colleagues, and I think I’m good at what I do. I think my job is relatively stable but the MSN was insurance. So I jumped in with both feet.

My first course was 16 weeks long and the extent of interaction with the professor was “Good job.” I received 100’s on everything I did. I was satisfied that the work I did was deserving of 100, but I wanted to know specifically what was good and where I could improve. This was brand new for me! The admissions rep had not painted an accurate picture of the requirements for the clinical courses, and this was frustrating. I was fingerprinted four times but the FBI was unable to read the fingerprints. I’m pretty sure the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department knows how to fingerprint people and the FBI knows how to read fingerprints, so I couldn’t tell where the breakdown was occurring. Wilkes made an exception and allowed me to take a graduate Nursing Theory course that did not require clinicals, and this was a great experience. I worked hard and my final grade of 98.9 was well earned. The feedback was comprehensive and the instructor was engaging. If I was her faculty supervisor, I would have given her the highest rating.

My final course was a disaster and the entire experience was disappointing. My father entered hospice care. The instructor stated that late work would not be accepted, no matter what. I contacted her and told her I did not anticipate problems, but my father was unstable at the time. I provided medical records to support my request, but she suggested I drop the course. She would not work with me under any circumstances. I contacted Student Services and complained. My advisor tap danced around and basically said, “Oh well.” I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told I probably needed to take the time off, anyway.

I work for a university that is student centric. We also care about our faculty. While my father was dying, I got tremendous support from my university. We are passionate about student success and we are passionate about teaching excellence. I had only seen teaching excellence in the nursing theory course. I was misled by admissions and advising, and there was no compassion. No one cared.

I’m done with the pursuit of the MSN, but I’m not done learning. Who knows what is next!

Mindfulness and Intentionality

 

The holidays are a perfect time to think about mindfulness and intentionality. It is easy to get caught up in buying gifts for people who don’t need anything, resulting in spending valuable time and money on things that aren’t important. Mindfulness allows us to enjoy the holidays through our presence, without the undue pressure of juggling what is important and necessary with what we feel we need to do. Intentionality allows us to make the important decisions and weigh the cause and effects of our decisions.

The simplest way to think about being intentional is doing the right thing for the right reason. Being intentional means making decisions that lead you towards the intended outcome. It is drawing on your inner strength to make choices that are right, in a purposeful and deliberate manner. It is weighing the pros and cons before making a decision, and choosing to be an active participant in life. I know my decisions may not be right for everyone, and that is okay. I accept responsibility for my life and my decisions, and I am aware of how my decisions will affect others. I recognize that I do not live nor work in a vacuum and that actions and decisions have consequences, therefore I act intentionally and consider all outcomes.

Part of being mindful is paying attention and being present. Mindfulness involves the deliberate attention to what is going on around with you. It is being aware of the people around you and recognizing their worth. It involves looking at people in a nonjudgmental way and accepting everyone for who they are. This is actually one of the most important lessons I learned from my father, who taught me to treat everyone as if he or she was the most important person I had encountered that day. As Mayo Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Being present and treating the people around you as if they were important is the first step in building the solid relationships that will help you be personally and professionally successful.

There are consequences to every decision you make and some of your professional decisions can have a profound influence on your personal life. I made the decision to sell my business and pursue a doctorate, but I gave little thought to how it would change our lives, even the lives of my adult children. The demands on my time virtually eliminated any normal family time for the next three years. While none of us now regret my decision, there were times when everyone had to make sacrifices. I left a lucrative corporate job to teach, and that has resulted in lifestyle changes. I wish I had involved my husband more in my decisions, as he was the one who had to bear so much more of the workload at home. Sometimes the tough decisions and the results can be hard to swallow, but if you are deliberate in your thinking and consider all angles, the tough decisions may be a little easier.

We’ve just come through a very difficult political election. Many of us have not been mindful in things we’ve said and the conclusions we’ve drawn, and some of us have been unfair to people who are close to us. There have been articles about people who dreaded Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and others about acceptable topics for discussion. My hope is that we can come together and approach the future with both mindfulness and intentionality, and heal some of the hurt of the past 18 months.

My final goodbye, with so much love

img_5317My father, Webster Marlowe, 84, of Palatka, Florida, died peacefully in his home on Monday morning, October 10, 2016. He is survived by his wife, Marie Benedict Marlowe, my brother and me, his sister, Katherine Long, of Liberty, SC, four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by 10 brothers and sisters and two great-grandchildren.

Daddy was born December 1, 1931, in Jacksonville, FL, to Thomas Lee Marlowe and Ola Alberta Cantee. I could never remember whether it was December 1st or 2nd, and if I called him on the 1st, he tell me to call him again on the 2nd. Many times, I forgot. He grew up on Park Street and graduated from Lee High School. His family was active at Trinity United Methodist Church, and my dad represented the Jacksonville sub-district at the Southeastern Jurisdiction Young People’s Leadership Conference. This is where he met my mother, the former Sarah Athelene Payne. She was 16 and he was 18, and he would eat her breakfast since she did not eat. Daddy joined the Army and would hitchhike to Thomasville to see my mom.

After serving in the US Army during the Korean War, my parents were married and Daddy enrolled at High Point College. I was born in 1954, and to quote my mom, I was “the apple of his eye from birth.” My brother came along two years later. There was never any doubt that my dad loved me. His long-time secretary always said that the only difference between the two of us was the plumbing. img_5186

Long before Mr. McGuire would give Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) his one-word advice in “The Graduate”, Daddy was approached by someone to start a plastics company in 1955. Daddy said that his first question was, “What is plastics?” He co-founded Flex-O-Pak in 1955 before leaving for Rex Plastics in 1959. In 1965, he struck out on his own and founded Southern Film Extruders in High Point, NC. Daddy worked day and night to make the company a success, once even triggering my mom to bring his pillow and suitcase to the plant. He was a member and national councilman of the Society of Plastic Engineers, and we often traveled with him in the summers.

During one trip to New York City, my mom took us to see a game show called “Say When.” Before the day was out, my mother became a contestant on the show. Our short trip was img_5314extended, as she continued to win. Among her winnings were a car, a fur coat, a pair of beautiful Rembrandt table lamps, and a trip to the Virgin Islands. My dad made sure my brother and I got to go along on the trip, where we were entertained by a member of the Duke Ellington orchestra. Perhaps this is where my brother and I both developed our love of jazz.

In the mid-1960’s, Daddy decided he wanted to learn to fly. Cecil Lawing was his instructor, and Cecil had a Cessna 175. Daddy loved flying, but my mom said it would be life or death before she got in the plane with him. Death it would be, as my mother’s cousin was dying of kidney failure and family members were being tested for the possibility of transplant. Daddy loved flying and soon would purchase a 1956 Cessna 172, N7214A, which would become my plane as soon as I got my license.  We spent most Saturdays out flying.  One of Daddy’s favorite stories was taxiing in at the airport in Myrtle Beach and being asked, “What are you doing flying Suzanne’s airplane?” I was in trouble for that, because he knew then I was flying to the beach when I was supposed to be in school.

Southern Film Extruders continued to expand and Daddy eventually took the company public.  He had locations in Florida and in New Orleans, so he was gone even more than ever. My parents divorced and my relationship with my dad changed. Divorce is not easy on adult children, either, and I was often put in the middle by both of my parents. Daddy and I would be estranged for months at a time but if I needed him, he was there. I never doubted his love.

Daddy moved to Palatka in the 1980s and eventually became an active member of the Carraway Seventh Day Baptist Church. He and his late wife, Beverly Marlowe, began the “Joy In the Morning” ministry for unwed mothers, which provided assistance for more than 100 single mothers. On a trip to Haiti, he found his passion and learned to build artificial legs in order to serve Haitiian amputees. Over his 20 years of travel, he even had “repeat customers” whose original legs had worn out or been outgrown.  He began his travels to Haiti when “Baby Doc”B96D2A1E-F9D8-4984-9ACD-FC01B69EB444.JPG Duvalier was in power, and was in Haiti when Aristide was overthrown by military coup. None of this dampened his passion for Haiti, nor did the violence he witnessed frighten him.  His faith and his passion were stronger than the fear. Daddy would more than 50 mission trips to Haiti and three to the Dominican Republic, bringing artificial limbs to needy recipients. My dad loved Haiti and the Haitian people.

Since mid-July, I’ve watched my dad wither away. I’ve sat at his bedside and helped him fulfill his final wishes, except for training his replacement in Haiti.  That I could not do, but I tried.  He was just too frail and I couldn’t get the young man here fast enough.  By mid-September, Daddy was barely eating and walking was a struggle. The phone call on October 10 was no surprise, but I know now he is at peace.  Even my mother made the statement that no one had greater faith than Webster Marlowe.

We’ve planned a memorial service for Saturday, October 29, 2016, at the American Legion Post 45, in Palatka, FL, at 3:00 p.m. ET, and we’ve asked people to consider contributing to Haitian ministries through Bethlehem Ministry, http://www.bethlehemministry.org, PO Box 48387, Athens, GA 30604.

 

A Pecan Waffle with Honey

“You’re here to protect me,” he said, barely lifting his head. “Yes, Daddy. You’ve been here for me throughout my entire life, and now I’m here for you.” Except I can’t do anything.

I’m beyond wondering whether I’ve said my final goodbye to my dad. I thought I said my final goodbyes when he was in ICU in July, then when he was in the hospice care center the next weekend. After a trip to see his sister, one he really did not need to take, he had to be readmitted to the inpatient hospice. He’s been there for the past 8 days and they can’t seem to regulate his medications, so I treasure every minute that I have with him. We’ve had our challenges over the past 40 years, but he’s been there when I needed him.   Now it is my turn to be there for him.

Daddy didn’t know where he was, but he knew he was safe. I was there.

My dad has had difficulty swallowing since he fell in July, but on Saturday he asked for a pecan waffle with honey. The nurse told him he could have soup, that they had no waffles of any kind. He was insistent; he wanted a pecan waffle with honey. I asked her whether she had a toaster, if I could find some at the grocery store. She gave me a disapproving look and said I could probably use the one in the kitchen. My father stated, again, “I want a pecan waffle with honey. I don’t want one from the grocery store.” The nurse patiently tried to explain that the hospice didn’t have any and that he couldn’t eat a waffle. Maybe patiently is a stretch; let’s just say she was polite. She offered yogurt, pudding, or soup. My dad raised his head, and for the first time I got a final glimpse of the man my father once was. “Do you not believe in satisfying your customers?” I burst out laughing then sent my husband to Huddle House for a pecan waffle with honey.

Bob came back with the waffle and the nurse walked out of the room in a huff. I poured the melted butter on it and then squeezed the honey from the packets, as my dad smiled and inhaled the fragrance of the warm pecans and honey. For a few minutes, he was happy. The nurse came in, asked me if I knew what I was doing. I told her I was trying to make my dad as happy as possible, for whatever little bit of time he has left. I knew he could choke but seriously? Shouldn’t he be allowed to enjoy whatever little bit of life he has left? The nurse scowled and walked out again. My dad didn’t eat, however, but he was clearly thinking about it. As soon as I left the room, the nurse through out the pecan waffle with honey.

My dad is dying. And all I can do is be there.

An Excellent Adventure

My husband turned 75 this year and we are celebrating this milestone with 75 adventures. We’ve chosen to include the intentional and unintentional adventures, both good and challenging. This liberal definition of adventure has resulted far more adventures than we anticipated and we’re up to 68, but this approach to the year has just been so much fun.

Our most recent adventure was truly outstanding and this one was deliberate. Bob spent almost his entire military service at Vance Air Force Base as an instructor pilot in Enid, Oklahoma, and he has always wanted to go back. Vance AFB is still a training base and they still fly the T-38 Talons and the T-6 Texans. Thanks to the base Public Information Officer, Bob’s dream came true.

We set out at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday on a Delta flight to Tulsa. Pass-riding is its own adventure, but we were cleared early and we had first class seats. Even better, we sat together! The driver of the rental car van couldn’t believe we were going to Enid, but I reminded myself this is BOB’S DREAM COME TRUE, not mine.

Anyway, we made it to the Hampton Inn and settled in. I work remote but I can get my 10-12 hour workdays in most anywhere. Bob was like a kid at Christmas. He kept running to the window to look at the planes, so I sent him out to explore the town on his own. After all, I was at work and I had meetings ALL DAY LONG.

Lt. Schroeder arranged an absolutely fabulous tour of the base, including simulator time. I went over on my lunch hour to see the sim and watch Bob fly. He surprised me by giving me part of his sim time, so I got to takeoff, fly around, do some aerobatics, and land. It was fun to be back at the controls of a jet again, even if it was a simulator.

I packed up the mobile office and we drove back to Tulsa last night to catch a 0600 flight home this morning. It is good to be back, with memories of another REALLY EXCELLENT adventure!

It’s good to be home.

Last Wish

My dad is in his final days. He wants to see his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and his sister and we’re going to make it happen. It won’t be easy; Daddy and his wife are frail and Aunt Kitty. His wife is visually impaired and Daddy has dementia on top of everything, so the bulk of the load falls on my niece, Brandi, who is his 24 hour caregiver. My brother and I are supplying love and financial support.

The logistics of traveling with a hospice patient requires contracts and coordination. Besides the rental car, there are the obvious medical needs. Daddy is planning seven nights on the road, four at our home and three in a hotel in South Carolina. He sleeps about two hours at a time. Dementia is challenging; sometimes he’s with us and sometimes he’s not.

Brandi asked me whether I was sure I didn’t want them to stay at a hotel. No, he’s my dad. Her response was, “But he’s a handful!” Yes, I know. His medications have been adjusted and titrated, and sometimes he’s okay but sometimes he’s not.

Food restrictions? “No shrimp, catfish, pork, or anything like that,” she said. “And no spaghetti. He doesn’t like pasta, spaghetti sauce, and nothing with any red dye. He’s very worried about red dye right now.” Hmmmm…red dye? He might have dementia but he has very specific opinions.

My daughter is working on sleeping arrangements but we’re not sure what we’ll need beyond that. We’re playing this by ear.

His brother waited until he saw my dad, and was gone before Daddy got out of the driveway. Last wishes can be tricky, especially with someone so frail.

This will be interesting. I want to make this next week memorable for everyone. He’ll see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I had not heard the lyrics to Carly Simon’s “Like a River” in a very long time, but she talks about how she is no longer waiting for her mother, as a daughter, as the part of their lives together is over. I have wanted my dad to come and visit ever since we moved here, but I never really pushed it because of his health. He’s coming this time on his terms, and I will cherish whatever days I have with him. It is his last wish.

I have certain movies that I watch for different reasons. I can watch Brian’s Song and cry without anyone questioning whether I’m okay. Airplane makes me laugh myself silly and the quotes sometimes come out at the most inappropriate times. And right now, the thought that comes to mind is, “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” I have to find humor wherever and whenever I can.

But to quote Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”

September 11.

September 11. Home.   Not happy. I should be flying. Nothing to do but maybe I could go play golf. 8:45 a.m. I hate morning television shows but I go into the living room and turn on the TV to CBS. Before I’ve brewed my tea, the nightmare begins. My cousin calls first. Ken wants to know I was safe.  Phone calls continue throughout the day and night. No one can believe it.

Days earlier, I had been in Columbus, Ohio. “Please, Chris. Please! Let me go out early!” I begged and pleaded but the answer stayed the same. Chris said I needed to stay home. What did he know. I just wanted to fly. I was already going out on September 13, and I was wrapping up an extended tour. It was a game to work your schedule so you could fly on your off days and stay home on your work days. This meant $$$.

The airspace was reopened on September 13 but our passenger didn’t want to go. My copilot was a skinny guy from Alabama. The silence over the airways was deafening. I thought of “The Stand” by Stephen King, where everyone disappeared. Periodically we’d key the mic and ask ATC if they were still there. Yes, but quiet.

As we crossed over Richmond going into Baltimore, we were told to look out for close traffic on our wings. I never dreamed of a military escort, not in my wildest imagination. When we arrived at Baltimore, our identification was checked before we got off the plane. It was a somber day as we awaited our passenger, a senator from Wisconsin who was attending the memorial service. We could still see the smoke when we approached White Plains, a few days later.

Flying changed. My attitude towards flying changed. I had imagined being hijacked but I never imagined an aircraft being used as a weapon. Each time I went to Hartsfield to meet my aircraft, my luggage was searched. My underwear would be strewn out over the table, my uniforms pulled out and wadded up, and my battery operated toothbrush turned on. Nothing was ever put back correctly so I now had to allow extra time for repacking. That was minor, though, compared to the realization that we were no longer safe.

There are four days in my life that I will never forget. The day President Kennedy was shot, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated, the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, and September 11, 2001. Of course I will always remember our wedding day and the birth of my children, and there are probably others, if I think about it. Each of these events changed the way I saw the world.

We can’t forget.

Lost – A Very Short Hospice Story

I had no idea where I was going so I called Trevor. It was a bad neighborhood and besides being our chaplain, he was an ex-cop. There were good people on the street, but trouble lived nearby. At least Trevor knew where we were going. Or so I thought. Hospice patients only die at night, at least that’s how it seemed. It was my turn to go out and pronounce and no way was I going alone. Not to this neighborhood and not to a strange home. Trevor and I agreed to meet at a nearby intersection.

I followed closely behind his car. My first clue that Trevor didn’t know where we were going was how he kept slowing down. It was – literally – a dark and stormy night, and visibility was limited. Numbers were missing from most of the mailboxes so we couldn’t confirm the address and the houses were obscured by the trees and the darkness. We’d have to rely on Trevor’s memory.

We knew something was wrong as we approached the house. Where was everyone? You would like to think there would be some cars there, since a beloved father, grandfather, brother, and friend was dying. What was going on? Where was everyone? Apprehensively, Trevor rang the doorbell. We waited. I rang it again. Finally, we heard movement when the door flew open. “I WON! I WON!” she screamed. We looked at each other, totally confused, and the lady abruptly stopped. “You’re not the Prize Patrol.”

Sometimes you just have to find the sense of humor.

Saying Goodbye – A Tribute to my Dad

My father is dying and I feel as if I’m in a revolving door. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster. To quote Lester Carter, “Life goes on, and then it doesn’t.”

Webster Marlowe is my biological father and the man who taught me to fly. He instilled in me a sense of duty to my community and a desire to make the world a better place, in whatever way I can. He was a pioneer in the plastics industry and this afforded us privileges that none of my friends enjoyed. On Saturdays, he would drive me to my music lessons and my horseback riding lessons, then we would go flying. We would come home in time for dinner, usually hot dogs at my granny’s on Saturday nights.

I will never forget Daddy picking me up at one of my dance classes, driving a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible. I was 15 years old and had taken two buses to get to dance. This was my daily routine. I would ride the school bus to the county line, then take the city bus to the Ray Hollingsworth School of Dance. Usually my mom picked me up, but this day Daddy picked me up in the most gorgeous car, everything I dreamed of in a new car. The main thing was it was NOT a station wagon. Daddy’s company cars were always station wagons. He tried to tell me this was just a loaner, and his new station wagon would be here the next day. I knew better; Daddy loved this car as much as I did. I would get my first car the next year, when I turned 16, but it would be a Dodge Dart. The Demon. Seriously. Daddy said I needed a car with a warning on the side and a model named for me. He always had a great sense of humor. I was loved, every day of my life.

About a month ago, my dad fell and was life-flighted to Orange Park Medical Center. We drove down to Jacksonville and I found him in ICU, on a ventilator and not responding. He responded to me, though, and he seemed better the next day. Still, I knew it wouldn’t be long but I was optimistic. We said goodbye and drove home. I thought he would be okay, but on Tuesday, the nurse called and said he was being moved to inpatient hospice with an expectation of just a few days. We drove down. The day I had to say goodbye and go home, Daddy said this would probably be the last time. I cried all the way home.

Now he’s rallied, but I know it is temporary. He met with the funeral home this week. I’m spending as much time as possible with him, but it is time to go home. I don’t know whether he will be here when we get back. Will the next time we return to Palatka be for his funeral?

I have said final goodbyes to him on three separate times. Knowing his death is inevitable doesn’t make it any easier. He’s been a great dad. He’s loved me at my best and he’s loved me at my worst. We’ve argued and he has infuriated me as much as I’ve infuriated him, but through it all, he’s been my dad, one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known.

I’m just not ready.

You’re Doing WHAT? WHY?

These are the first words people say when they find out I am working on a Masters of Science in Nursing. My husband said, “I thought a PhD was a terminal degree.” My mother said, “Why in the world would you want to do that?” My friend Sheila said, “Good for you.” Most of my other friends and family have responded with varying degrees of surprise, shock, horror, and support. Let me set the stage:

I graduated from high school in 1972. As an 18 year old commercial pilot and flight instructor, opportunities in aviation were limited.   With the exception of one female pilot at Frontier Airlines, airline pilots were men. I didn’t want to be a flight attendant. I wanted to fly. I was attending UNC-Greensboro as an interior design major, but my heart wasn’t in it. I just wanted to fly. And fly I did. My girlfriends and I would hop in my plane, once a week, and fly to the beach. We never skipped the same classes two weeks in a row, so we were good. We kept this up all year. I knew I needed an education, but I really wanted to fly.

I was conducting a training session one Saturday and my dad flew my airplane (okay, it was his, but I flew it all the time) to the beach for the $100 hamburger. The hamburger was only $5, but fuel and maintenance made it much more expensive. Pilots love to fly and they don’t care. Flying to the beach for the day or flying to Roanoke for a hamburger was routine. When my dad got out of the airplane, he was greeted with, “What are you doing flying Suzanne’s airplane? Who are you?” I was busted, big time.

I began looking at my options. I went to the military recruiters and was laughed out the door. I applied for flying jobs to no avail. Less qualified men got the jobs. The airlines were only hiring former military pilots coming home from Vietnam. In a moment of desperation, I got a job in a hardware store. The day I vacuumed up a cockroach the size of my cat was the day I decided to get serious about school.   I decided to go to nursing school. Even if I got a flying job, nursing would give me security.

I attended Central Piedmont Community College for the next two years and earned an Associate of Science in Nursing and became a Registered Nurse. Throughout this entire period of time, I was still flying and I would go to the airport and instruct aspiring pilots. I was flying early in the mornings and in the evenings.   I continued to apply for flying jobs and continued to be turned down.   I decided to continue with my Plan B.

My healthcare career was great and I loved every minute of it. I completed a Masters in Health Policy, since I had moved into administration. I was 43 when my company was bought out by Cigna, so I returned to aviation and got my airline job. However, I found I couldn’t totally leave health care. Since that time, I’ve owned a hospice and a home care company, and I’ve earned my Ph.D. in Organization and Management.

Why am I doing this? I’m a lifelong learner. I love education. I decided 30 years ago that someday I would get an advance degree in nursing, and the opportunity for an MSN presented itself. I jumped on it. Being in school makes me a better professor, too. I have much more empathy when I, too, am juggling work and the demands of the student side of the classroom. The importance of solid feedback is glaringly real, as a “100, good job” frustrates me. It has also forced me to focus and hone my time management skills.

What will I do with this degree? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do nothing more than enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I’m loyal to a fault and I have no plans to leave my current employer. I really like my colleagues and my students. For now, I’ll just enjoy the adventure.