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“It’s a God Thing”

      My dream of a PhD started many years ago……I think it was in the fall of 2007….I didn’t know any of the details of what PhD degree I wanted to pursue but I knew I wanted to. Fast forward to Fall semester of 2014 when I attended a Doctoral Panel during the start of my second year of my MA degree. There were three programs represented that evening. I sat and listened to each person talk, of course they were all good and interesting programs but the one that caught my attention was the University of Toledo’s Counseling Education and Supervision program. I was impressed with both the program and the professor and walked away with the feeling that I was being called to go there. I went home and talked to my family about the program and they listened, half-heartedly.

I thought about the program off and on for the next year. In the fall of 2015, once again I attended a meeting where a professor from UT came in and talked about the program. I was fortunate enough to spend about 20-30 minutes before hand with the professor chatting. I was still extremely impressed with the program, and I knew it was definitely on my short list of programs to seriously look at. Afterwards, a friend and I ran into the professor and spent more time talking, my friend left and the professor and I continued talking. Finally after another hour or so, he encouraged me to come to UT to visit informally. It would take me 6 weeks to find the time……

    November of 2015 found me driving to Toledo for the day. I spent about 3 hours talking to the professor, meeting other professors and graduate assistants that day. Took a tour of the campus, came home with a t-shirt that says “Nothing gets between me and my degree”, which I love as it is a constant reminder not to give up just because something is difficult. It was a wonderful day, the campus is beautiful and reminds me of John Carroll’s campus, which is a plus for me. The professor and I had a conversation about whether or not I would consider coming to UT? I told him that I really liked the program and would love to come if I could have a graduate assistantship and could wait a year, as fall 2016 was not a possibility due to having to move my family. He was amenable to that, took my name of his GA list for Fall of 2016 and put it on the list for Fall 2017. 

I left UT that day with a purpose. I would keep in touch with the professor through email  periodically updating him on my progress and renewing my intent of coming to UT in the Fall of 2017.  In May of 2016 I would pass the first licensing exam easily, graduate with my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and get my first job as a counselor. 

Somewhere in the discussion about pursuing my doctorate, between the husband and myself, he said some very ugly things to me, which were hurtful, I waited a week until I was calm and we were alone to address them. I rationally disputed everything he had said out of anger and tried my very best to explain to him that this was God’s plan for my life and I had to follow it. I told him that I would not make this decision for him but that rather he needed to make it: come with me and our children or stay in Cleveland. He said he would let me know.

Fast forward to the end of August-beginning of September when I spent two weeks praying and petitioning the Lord about what to do…..I wondered if I should just settle and not pursue my PhD because I knew it would mean getting a divorce and uprooting my three youngest children. After that time, The Lord graciously intervened and I received an email from the Professor, wanting to know if we were still on target for me to start Fall 2017 and that my name was on his list for a GA. i had not communicated with him since May…….so I knew I had to follow through.

I don’t know why, but by the beginning of November I was again doubting the Lord’s plan….just call me Thomas……so this time the Lord used the Ohio Counseling Association Conference to remind me. I met up with an acquaintance from JCU and she mentioned that she had visited UT and met with Dr. R who then asked her if she knew me, and of course she said she did, which led him to say something to the the sort of : “Rose is coming in the Fall of 2017 and you both would be great for the department”. My reply to that was to say “I guess i had better fill out that application then”.  I would fill it out and submit it December 26, 19 days before the deadline. I sent an email to Dr. R informing him and was relieved to hear back that he was so excited that I had applied and yes, I was still on his list for a graduate assistantship.

I was scheduled for my official interview on February 13, 2017…..I took the day off work, and drove to UT for a second time and it was starting to feel like home and I was so excited to be on campus again. I had dressed up, and on my walk into the building, a young African-American man said “you look nice”, which gave me just a bit of confidence which I so desperately needed right then. 

I wish I could say I aced the interview but there were times I struggled for the perfect answer and wasn’t sure that my answers were great but every once in a while, I was able to give a great answer to a question and felt more confident. I did that a few times which helped but typical me fashion, I felt like I had bombed it. I spent 45 minutes with the GA’s getting to know them and having a really good time with them. I was told that I would know within a couple of weeks…. exactly what is a couple of weeks anyway? Two? Three? 

It was exactly one week and I would get the email stating that I was admitted into the program. Somewhere along the line my pursuit of a doctorate and Toledo became tagged with “its a God Thing”. I was/am still so excited…….I spent the first 5 weeks at the peak of the Happiness mountain. Within two days I had welcoming emails and have been treated so well already and I have yet to start. 

I have orientation for Graduate Assistants on August 18 in the morning, they are feeding us lunch and then orientation to the Doc program in the afternoon. I have the class that I am teaching: Fundamentals of Human Mental Health…….I had my first experience with ordering an instructor’s copy and it is supposed to be here by Wednesday. I’m currently working on the syllabus. 

I am truly excited for this next chapter of my life, possibly more so since I know it is “A God Thing”.

 

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