Now that I’ve been accepted into Mississippi State University for the Applied Meteorology Program, I feel like I’ve made a major accomplishment both in my life and the history of my family. It’s kind of a strange position to be in because I never envisioned myself ending up in graduate school.
When I graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle in 2002, I started my first quarter at Central Washington University as a music minor and undecided on what major to have…although I was leaning towards a degree in physics for a potential career in astronomy (while meteorology was a big enjoyment of mine, my father had gotten me hooked on astronomy and skywatching in my teenage years). But, mesmerized by music and my enjoyment of it continuing from my middle and high school years, I decided to upgrade my minor into a major…Bachelor of Music – Violin Performance. Let’s just say, it was rough on me mentally, beyond belief. I mean, I did enjoy playing the violin and performing in orchestras. But, I eventually came to see I wasn’t as cut out as I thought for the musical life (at least in full immersion). During the summer of 2004, I finally decided to give up being a music student, (to the annoyance of my parents who invested some money into the venture) and began what would be the long path…occasionally rough with serious health problems…towards a degree encompassing some meteorology and eventually geography/GIS.
However, I continued to have no plans of going to graduate school. Even as a music major, I had thought that I would graduate with my BM in 2006 or 2007, then go off into the world and look for an orchestra to join and probably do private lessons. A master’s or PhD were not in the cards. With more years of school ahead trying to become a meteorologist, I still didn’t consider graduate work. It wasn’t really until after I started attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that I realized for either government or private industry (especially government positions), it might be in my best interest to continue into graduate school. I eventually got off the pure meteorology path thanks to money issues preventing me from continuing schooling at UNL, plus serious problems learning the required mathematics (which I’d spent quite a bit of money on retaking multiple times). But, thanks to the geography/GIS path and interdisciplinary studies at South Dakota State University, my path to the bachelor’s degree…and the opening of the door for the master’s degree…remained sound.
And really, my position couldn’t have turned out any better, especially for someone coming from an extremely non-traditional academic background. I remember telling my fiance yesterday that my admission to Mississippi State University is quite serendipitous (my admission to SDSU was for that matter). I came to SDSU, joined a degree program that enabled me to essentially make my own major, incorporating my existing coursework into it. I’m graduating from here in December and was admitted to a graduate program with a meteorology concentration where no additional math is required from what I’ve already been exposed too. And because it’s a geoscience degree, it continues to incorporate important geographic concepts I’ve already been exposed too such as GIS and hazards/societal impacts. Just looking at my academic (and now some work) experience, I can see future opportunities in GIS, meteorology, and hazards/emergency management.
All I can say, is that after years of having things seemingly NOT go my way, it’s nice to have the stairs align just right for me for once (and more).