Thursday, August 11, 2011

I think all of my blog readers know that I am a social worker. They know that I have a passion for working with cancer patients and their families. What everyone may not know about is my academic journey and challenges to get here. I began my college education in 1997, when Joshua started first grade. I started out taking two classes at a time and working full time, as a single mom. In 2007 (yes, ten years later) I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. Medical social work is a Master's level career; so I applied to the Master's Degree program and began in the fall of 2007. It was a three year program. Things went well until my final year. In the fall, Nate was diagnosed with H1N1 (remember that flu?). Well, it knocked down my usually high energy little guy and I spent a lot of time taking care of him. Soon after that, I fell and injured my knee, badly. This put me behind in in my fall classes. Then the spring semester started with knee surgery (and vicodin) which was not conducive to my studies. However, I did finish my classes that semester and walked with my class.
These are a few of my favorite academic people. Far left is Dr. Montana; I am standing with Dr. Middleton, the social work department chair; and to the right is my mentor and friend, Dr Rondero Hernandez (aka Dr. V.).

BUT. I had not completed my Master's Degree. I had to take an extension. I thought I would be able to complete my final project over the summer and be done. Instead, in June my dad's cancer went rogue and he had 6-8 surgeries between June and November. Nate had a very rough start to second grade which ultimately led to our decision to pull him out of school and homeschool him. Then in December, my dad's doctor decided to do radiation treatment - 33 daily treatments, Monday through Friday. When that was finished in February. I still had not complete my degree.

I was working part time, homeschooling Nate and still managing my dad's medical care. The radiation did not stop the cancer and my dad again needed several surgeries. Then another, shorter round of radiation. This one seems to have done the trick (knock on wood) as he has not had another recurrence.

I began talking to Dr. V. about how to get back on track. She guided me back and as my project chair kept me on track to finish this. I have worked diligently for the past three months to finish this project that I started nearly two years ago. And here it is, all 79 pages.

And here is my degree clearance. Signed, sealed and delivered. I even walked with my chair to turn it in to the graduate studies department. After all this work, this part was disappointingly anti-climatic. I joked with Dr. V than I was going to wear my cap, gown and hood to campus to turn it in.
A couple months ago, our organization changed their logo and everything had to be ordered new. They ordered me this name tag, knowing that I was working on completing my degree. Now I can rightfully wear it.

Stay tuned to see how we celebrate this accomplishment!


Amy said...

Congratulations! What an accomplishment. You must be so proud!

Melissa Ens said...

Hooray and congratulations Sheri! I love the idea/image of you walking down the hall with your cap and gown. I would have followed you and hummed "pomp and circumstance" for you. :)

And about your year of you... May God guide you and give you new insight and wisdom about what it means to love Him and love others and yourself too. For me, I've been learning lately that loving myself is much more about my being willing to accept love from God and others than perhaps anything else. Quite a journey. : ) Love you Sheri!

Aimee said...

Yay! How very exciting to see all your hard work FINALLY pay off with those three little (big!) letters after your name. I'm so proud of you!