My Epic Journey Through Graduate School


In August 2014, I set off on an epic journey in the Masters in Public Administration program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Setting off, I knew the road would be hard, full of late nights and rigorous work. However, like the Fellowships setting off toward Mordor, I joined my cohort and ventured into the unknown, walking with strangers who would one day become close friends (Cue epic journeying music from Lord of the Rings)..

Here I am, 20 months later. After a far more challenging Capstone project than I expected, and some additional adventures, and many, many late nights completing assignments, I feel like this:

Sam carries Frodo-small

I’m not sure if I’m Sam and Frodo is my assignments I’m carrying up Mt. Doom, or if I’m Frodo and all of my friends and loved ones are the ones carrying me up Mt. Doom and the completion of my quest.

As in any hero’s journey, I have grown in this adventure and changed. I am not the same person who came here. I have learned so much – best practices for nonprofit management, accounting standards, Excel wizardry skills, basic economics principles, program evaluation procedures, team development, government budgeting, and more. My skills have been honed and my world has been broadened.

Red Cross

On my side quest to Washington D.C. This is the headquarters of The Red Cross, which is across the street from The White House.

During these two years, I embarked on a plane for the first time in my life – I never had a need before. Since that first journey to Phoenix, I have traveled to Washington D.C. and San Antonio, TX in search for the elusive grail called a career. I have met national and state leaders in nonprofit and government organizations. I have made strong connections and, like Lucy walking through the door of the wardrobe, discovered doors and worlds I did not know existed.

I have learned to take risks and be bold. If we have to take leaps and risks in order to grow and succeed. Some of my jumps have ended with me smacking my face into a wall. However, I’ve taken a step back, reevaluated the jump, and tried again.

I have learned to know what direction I want to go in, but to also look for unexpected side-paths along the way. For example, I had my capstone planned out during the middle of Fall semester, but, at the end of the semester, I was offered a paid project for my capstone. I was able to hand-off my original project to a friend and learn a lot from my unexpected opportunity.

I have learned the importance of enjoying the ride, even in the midst of dark hours as a looming deadline charges toward you. It is important to pause and look out, enjoying the moment, while still charging toward the future. I’ve had many opportunities to deepen my friendships with new and old friends through taking a break to have some fun and enjoy this experience.

Just as any hero cannot walk alone, I have been lifted by others along the way – my classmates, my faculty, my family back home and my family here, my long-time friends here, and the new friends I have gained. Each group has been there to be my Sam and help carry me when I am exhausted, and I have tried to be there for them. I have made many great and remarkable friendships which will last a long time.

To be a BYU MPA is to be a part of a fellowship which spans beyond my graduating class to current and future alumni. It means to gain the skills to serve the public, to know how to lead governments and nonprofits to support the common good and make the world a better place. It means I’ve had the privilege of attending school and working with some of the hardest working, kindest people you could ever meet.

12804901_10102447838518959_5069774425796727396_n

These are all great people. BYU MPA 2016

And now, this great journey comes to an end. I stand here with my friends, preparing to part ways and venture off to our next adventures.

So, like Frodo, Gandalf, and Elves leaving for the Gray Havens while Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to The Shire, I leave having grown and changed.

P.S. I want to thank everyone in the blogosphere who’s kept coming around and visiting while I’ve been on this epic journey. I’m hoping to be around more often over the next few months.

Also, thanks to everyone who’s bought and supported my book, The True Bride and the Shoemaker. Now that this chapter is closing, I am hoping to bring more stories from Pippington to life.

Side Note: Below are links to the previous steps along this journey.

Side Note 2: I’m also super excited about this because SPACESHIPS!!!!!

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6 thoughts on “My Epic Journey Through Graduate School

  1. Congrats! I have one semester left in my grad program, so I can only imagine the joy that you must be feeling right now. Looking forward to more regular content. 🙂

  2. Oh man, I am so happy for you. Seriously! I could never do grad school. Well, never say never, but it’s definitely not in the cards right now. I really admire those of you who take those extra steps and go after that niche that you are passionate about.
    And I’m also glad you came back for a little bit to the blog (I sorely missed you when you took your break) so we could follow along your life.
    Do you know where your adventure takes you next? Or are you resting in a place like Rivendell for a bit?

  3. Pingback: Back to the Beginning: How This Blog Started | The L. Palmer Chronicles

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