Twenty years ago, I finished my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and was immediately accepted into the doctoral program at the same university. I had always seen myself with this degree, from the time I began my teaching career. Unfortunately, two months later, before I could even begin the program, my husband’s job relocated out of the area. It was such a huge disappointment. I decided then and there, a doctorate was just not in my future. Even when I decided to get my principal’s certification, I decided to go an alternative route, rather than a tradition college certification, because I was still grieving the lost opportunity.
Recently, I started to have the old stirrings. I’ve never stopped pursuing learning in various venues, but that doctorate was a goal that had eluded me. I began searching possible programs, but finding a match of a program, a university, and funds was the key. Then suddenly, out of no where, my alma mater, the school I was accepted to twenty years ago was offering the program I wanted as an online option. I decided this was a sign. The only challenge was that I had just two weeks to get everything submitted.
Luckily, that happened and I was able to take the GRE (which by the way is a whole crazy story in and of itself) and was accepted to the program. However, as excited as I was, I was overcome with some intense anxiety. The potential cost. Thinking about the cost raised doubts in my mind about whether this was truly the path I was supposed to be on or whether I was forcing a dream that should have died long ago. I wondered if I was using the idea of being an example to my students and that this program came along as an excuse while potentially putting my family at risk with unneeded debt. Was I being selfish? I am one of those fortunate enough to fall in just the right income bracket where financial aid isn’t a possibility based on need and where I don’t just have extra dollars lying around.
But then, something wonderful happened. I was sitting in a training and an email popped up from my university. Honestly, I read it thinking “what do they want from me now?” However, as I read it, I truly couldn’t believe my eyes. I handed my phone to the teacher next to me and asked her to make sure I was reading it correctly. Out of nowhere, the College of Graduate Studies offered me a fellowship to cover a big chunk of my costs over the next four years. I didn’t apply for it. Heck, I couldn’t even figure out how to complete the stupid FAFSA form. It seriously wasn’t because of my GRE scores (remember it has been twenty years and that’s a whole different story!) My only explanation is that God truly knows our path and if it is His will, He will provide. Sometimes, even when we begin to doubt if we are on the right journey, we only need to be willing to take that leap and trust in Him.