The Past Five Years

If you get the Broadway reference in the title – you win! (the satisfaction of knowing that you are probably as big of a theater nerd as I am)

Last month was the five year anniversary of receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, and I realized it’s been almost 10 years since receiving my Master’s degree.
Completing my Ph.D. program was no small feat:
– I worked 2 – 3 jobs through most of the program
– I funded multiple international trips to Senegal and Germany to complete my research (total number of grants I applied for reached ~25…It might have been more and I am afraid to look at my folders from that year to find out)
– I co-chaired a Task Force that shaped university policy regarding gender-based violence
– I rediscovered my love for theater and joined a gym for the first time #riseandgrind

Over the past few weeks, I remarked how it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago that I walked down The Hill with my friends and colleagues. I had just met my now-husband, my family all drove in from out of state to stay in my 900 sqft apartment (wish I had a picture of people sleeping on air mattresses and the floor because I had already sold most of my furniture), and I could not have even dreamed of working in my current industry.
– I was on my way to Senegal after graduation for the summer
– I had a job offer to be a researcher in Somalia
– I was applying to non-profit orgs and trying to figure out how to be employable outside of academia
– I had no idea where my life was going to take me and I was TERRIFIED

Over the past few years, I have rarely, if ever reflected on how much that weekend meant to me. My whole family was able to see me walk across the stage at the Lied Center. And what shocked everyone was when I crossed the stage after being hooded and the Chancellor hugged me. We had worked semi-closely together during my time at KU, and I admired her so much; it was her final commencement weekend at KU.

My face in this photo says everything – four years and a lifetime of work for one moment

Since that weekend, a lot of things have happened:
– I started working in the fintech industry
– I adopted a beautiful dog, led him across the rainbow bridge, and was convinced to adopt another during the lockdown
– Got married (and am learning more every day how much it takes to be a good life partner)
– Lost my beloved Grammy to Parkinson’s
– Got laid off from my “dream job,” only to find work that I am truly passionate about; I get to use my gift of storytelling in new ways almost daily

And even as I see how much my life has changed over the past five years, I am learning to appreciate my experiences in a different way. My work requires me to tell stories every day, and part of sharpening that skill set is writing my stories here, as well.

If I want to be known and remembered as someone who could take complex concepts and break them down into manageable pieces, perhaps it follows that I should use those skills in this space – to unpack some of my stories, thoughts on life, discuss my experiences… with the hope that someone will find it useful.

All of this to say: I am proud of myself. I have accomplished so much. And I am just getting started.

**Ad astra per aspera**

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