To PhD or not to PhD, Part 1:

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From The Scribe, Boise State University, Department of History

May 2008, I graduated with a Master in Public Administration in a thrilling ceremony that began with my family gathered around and a breakfast of donuts. Once seated, bagpipes played, former NASA Astronaut Barbara Morgan spoke, and Gabriel’s Oboe performed for the closing music. I felt a surge of accomplishment, pride and had no doubt that I would pursue a PhD.

Several of my MPA colleagues planned to enjoy the year break and then apply to the PhD. in Public Policy and Administration program scheduled to begin fall 2010. We knew a strict and competitive application process existed. We remained optimistic and looked forward to the honor of being the first cohort through the program. The Boise State fall 2007 FOCUS magazine wrote a story about me as being a great candidate for the program. (p. 26)

However, circumstances beyond our control altered those plans. As the University, with the rest of the nation, navigated a rough economic crash and budgets cuts, the program went into hibernation. The years passed with attempts by dedicated faculty to reactivate the program. During that time, my friends and I lost momentum, and our drive to pursue a degree.

We questioned if we wanted a PhD with all the stress involved and potential debt. I investigated other educational pursuits that involved history, training to teach English as a second language, or a writing career through the MFA program at Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington. One of the many rewards of working at the University is the tuition benefit. It may take longer to complete a degree working full-time, but employees avoid educational debt.

In 2012, the PhD program, rather suddenly, came out of hiding and ready to accept applications. Exciting news and I considered application to the program but decided to delay for the first year, fall 2013. I visited with a longtime friend and mentor whom I trusted and knew would ask me the tough questions that boiled down to a simple, “Are you sure?”

My area of interest is affordable housing policy. I spent a year investigating topics and research questions with various faculty, friends, and directors of programs involved with housing issues. I considered the impact on my life if accepted. I finally turned in my application for a fall 2014 start-up.

In early spring, I received a form letter in the mail – the answer was, “No.” Initially, I felt hurt hearing the news via an impersonal form letter, and nursed an insulted ego for several days, okay weeks – all right maybe a month. Yes, I still feel a tinge now!

Curiously, underneath it all, I noted a sense of relief. I struggle with health issues and had concerns about my stamina to complete the program. At 55, I deliberately ponder how to spend the next healthy years of life. In addition, when I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I had a terrific review session with the Department Chair. Congratulations to the program that had over 50 applications!

When I paused to reflect thoroughly on the ordeal, I realized a five-year journey ended. I spent the last five years thinking or talking about getting a PhD. – at least once a day. That turned into a fair amount of real estate property in the brain dedicated to the question, To PhD. or not to PhD.VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

To be continued……

 

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Amtrak, Ferries and Wild Women of the Pacific Northwest, Part 2

 20140522_112945   Susan, thank you for the wonderful email.  It was a glorious time with everyone….   I loved all our crazy, wacky, peaceful, sleepy, sugar coma, Star Light theater moments and the cool weather.   I miss you all terribly as I am back in hot old Idaho….  I had a great drive to Wenatchee with Pat, excellent conversation, saw gorgeous mountains, a wild river, ate the best ever Indian food, got a terrific tour from Pat and Bill of the charming downtown and panoramic view of the city.  

I logged into my WordPress site and noted I had already started a draft blog chronicling my recent adventures.  The beginning here  is part of an email response I wrote to Port Townsend Susan.  I decided to back up a bit to write more on this trip.–

The Amtrak ride ended too soon, for me anyway as a person who rarely rides the trains. However, from the snippets of conversations on board, Amtrak was a way of travel life for many commuting between Portland, Seattle and beyond.

I got off the train at Edmonds, WA, walked the short route to the ferry and crossed-over to Kingston, where my dear friend Nancy offered curbside service, and off we went to begin the last visiting section of my trip. A reunion with the women of the Pacific Northwest whom I had bonded with on our Habitat build in Kauai.

Thursday morning began with work on a Habitat for Humanity home in Chimicum, Washington.

Nancy is working!

Nancy is working!

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Ann, Kate (and guy in the background) are working!

Well, Nancy, Ann and Kate were productive. I got an attack of the lazy and dabbed slowly away on the exterior side, strolled around the lovely meadow and visited with others. Project Manager Kate noted the lackluster energy and graciously allowed an exit from work to go have fun in Port Townsend.

 

I am wandering, lollygagging around in the meadow  - not working.

I am wandering, lollygagging around in the meadow – not working.

Living in a state that has an abundance of sun and hot weather, I tried to temper my exuberant hope for rainy weather, as I realized I was surrounded by Pacific Northwest dwellers who cherish every ray of sunshine that graces their cloudy, moist world.

I have resided the last 37 years in the desert land of Boise, Idaho, which is a complicated place to live. Idaho is a diverse landscape of deserts, plains, wild rivers, gorges, stunning mountains and four distinct climate seasons. In fact on the plane ride to Portland, my seatmate was a longtime resident of Idaho and we spent the trip discussing the endless list of outdoor places to enjoy in Idaho and I felt a new gratitude for where I live. Yet, it is easy to feel landlocked in Boise particularly during the brutal summer heat. What I luxuriate in each time I flee to Port Townsend, Chimicum, or any location on the Oregon, Washington coast,  is the immediate proximity of the water, the lush greenery and mountain landscape. Eventually I will relocate and settle to the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, back to the Wild Women of the Pacific Northwest HFH reunion.

A mixture of whirlwind activity began as we ate tasty clam chowder, pastries, drank delicious fresh roasted coffee, and strolled through the Saturday market. One of the highlights of the trip occurred when we went to the Rose Theater and watched a movie in the Starlight room. Located in an old building on the top floor, the theater consists of a collection of comfy chairs and couches. Movie time began with the heavy velvet curtains drawn over the windows, and introduced by one of the theater staff.  It was hard to decide which chair to sit in. I started the afternoon sitting with my friends, but halfway through the show, migrated back to a big, fluffy comfy chair. Tables are placed strategically around the furniture for moviegoers to eat dinner and some of the best popcorn this side of the Mississippi.

Wild Pacific Northwest Women (Susan L. is taking the photo)

Wild Pacific Northwest Women (Susan L. is taking the photo)

 

To be continued…..