22. The Horizon

For those who follow me on social media, this will come as repeat news. It has taken me a few days to make it over to the blog for an update. 

The very excellent news is that I have been admitted to VCU’s Ph.D. in Education Leadership, Policy, and Justice. It is one of two programs I applied to. Last year, on the same day that my brother died, I received the news that my application had been denied. I didn’t know if I had it in me to reapply, especially with so much uncertainty on the horizon, but with the encouragement of a professor I collaborated with in the Fall, I decided to give it a shot. 

I’ve shared so much of my childhood and the experiences of last year but very little of the elements that comprised my life prior to last January. During my second year as a teacher, I heard an incredible episode of This American Life. It highlighted the incredible racial inequity that still exists in our school systems and ignited something inside of me. I began to explore the topic more, eventually launching a social justice class for my own students. I also became heavily involved with Teachers in the Movement and Teaching Tolerance. Last fall, I volunteered with a team at UVA to create multicultural curriculum resources for teachers as an extension of Teaching Tolerance. It was an awesome opportunity and has opened more doors in that direction. The conviction that I can have a greater impact on education from outside the classroom has been slowly simmering over the past few years.  

While I am incredibly excited to have been admitted, attendance is not a sure thing just yet. The school’s funding has been greatly impacted by COVID. I won’t know until April whether I will be selected for an Assistantship, which will provide a stipend and tuition coverage. There are only three slots available for the entire school of Education, so it’s competitive. 

I spent much of last week feeling a bit disoriented, unsure of how I should be using my time. Do I still look for work in case I’m not granted the assistantship? Do I change the kind of work I’m looking for in case I am? (Sidebar: it baffles and amazes me that I still haven’t found employment. I have to believe there is a reason for it, that this time is meant for something. Otherwise, I will go absolutely batty thinking about it.) Do I use this time to write until the next step is clear? Hypothetically, I could finish my book in the next eight weeks…

A little bit of both? 

Those unknowns aside, the last few weeks have been absolutely incredible. I have so much gratitude simply to be at home with my daughter, settled into a routine. Our days, devoid of the constant pressure and busyness of life, have been so damn enjoyable. It is a rare opportunity to be fully present in each moment. I feel myself learning a new calm, a new way of existing. To cook and clean, to sleep, write, walk, learn. To parent without all the other external demands. This all feels new. It is so life-giving. So healing. 

And, I’ve started hearing back from some potential employers, which is more than I can say for most of 2020. I’m sleeping better now. I’m doing some awesome work with an incredible therapist. And I’m about to jump back into writing my memoir. That has been the greatest challenge for me lately. While I’ve been writing in other capacities, I found it very difficult to visit my own history. It’s a bit grueling to visit the past and then be fully present in the now, especially in the capacity of a parent. Creating that emotional space is a real discipline. But it’s one I want to tackle now while there are less impediments. 

Ok, so I just dipped over to my email and I already have an update on the Ph.D. situation. It seems the THREE available assistantship positions for have now been whittled down to ONE single position. I’m told the deans and chairs are meeting to discuss it tomorrow. It’s a bit of discouraging news but not entirely defeating. I am also going to begin to explore outside grants and scholarships. Challenging but not impossible. Hope is on the horizon! 

I will update as soon as I know more.

4 thoughts on “22. The Horizon

  1. Thank you for the update Dana. When will life settle for people such as yourself and family, or will it? So glad to read that you and daughter are enjoying your time at home together. This is one of the good things out of the situation – people actually have time to do some of the “free” things in life, like spending time together. Some of those free things are the absolute best and most powerful forces in our life. Will be following your situation, and of course remembering you in prayer.

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  2. Dana, dear friend, you are on your way to something new and exciting. Praying for your future to be bright and interesting, just like you!
    Thank you for keeping us up to date. With much love and uplifting thoughts coming your way.
    Psalm 118:24 as always my theme song 🎶🎵

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