I am thankful for tonight where I finally have time to myself to reflect on the past one year of graduate school after a very full-on past couple of days. It’s been 2 weeks since I submitted my last paper for the spring semester and life has continued to be busy in a different way – I volunteered to be an usher for the graduation which required me to participate in a three-day training program before commencement day. The training included a personal discovery program and ropes course on the first day which was heaps of fun. It was also great to meet a whole new set of people.
What a real privilege to be present on graduation day even though I was not the one graduating! The Gallaudet Dance Company performed a dance item to the song “Hero” by Mariah Carey. The speeches were nothing short of inspiring and the atmosphere had an air of celebration as each student walked across the stage to receive their award. One of the quotes that was shared by one of the speakers was:
No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. ~ Maria Robinson
This quote really resonated with me. Being granted successful admission to Gallaudet University last fall was the start of a new chapter for me. I can’t believe my first year of graduate school is over. Time has simply flown by. In just one year, so many things have happened. In that time, my mind has been stretched – my beliefs, biases, assumptions and worldview have been challenged. I grew as a person.
As I look back on on my first year of graduate school, I am filled with limitless gratitude at the incredible opportunities that God has opened up for me, the friends that He has brought into my life and the strength that He has given me to cope with the rigors of graduate school. The journey has not been easy especially juggling the workload and part-time work on campus. I recall the many days where I burnt the midnight oil and ended up sleeping at 4am just to finish writing papers. Despite this, I feel refreshed compared to a year ago and blessed beyond measure. 🙂
The 10 things I am extremely thankful to God for:
1. My professors and my boss who have constantly encouraged me to stretch myself and to become better than the person I was yesterday.
2. My classmates whom I have learnt a lot from and worked together with to develop a project for Cambodian Deaf Children for our Project Design class. It is the toughest class I have ever taken. Through it, I developed a heightened sense of self-awareness about my strengths and weaknesses. I am thankful for the lightbulb moments and the insights I have gained. I have learnt a lot from the first year of the international development program about what it means to be an effective advocate and to incorporate best practices for inclusion of Deaf people and people with disabilities in development projects.
3. My roommate, Chang Liu whom I enjoy talking to at times and have learnt a lot from. Thank you for being a caring and funny friend. I appreciate your straightforwardness and I’m thankful that we will be roommates for another semester.
4. An on-campus job as a Graduate Assistant at the Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) Center and to be able to work under a distinguished professor.
5. Being granted the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), Student Scholar, Academic Year 2014-2015 Certificate.
6. Allowing me to be the recipient of the PEO International Peace Scholarship. The amount granted to me will help me cover some of my 2nd year graduate school expenses.
7. Successful admission into a dual masters program. I was rapt when I got my letter of admission. 🙂 I have successfully completed my first year of international development studies and will be pursuing an MA in Linguistics concurrently. I remember after my first month at Gallaudet, I realized I couldn’t bear to leave Gallaudet after 2 years. This place is highly stimulating and there is so much to learn. So instead of my original plan of 2 years, I’ll be at Gallaudet for at least a total of 3.5 years. I have 2.5 years left to go.
8. Moulding me and changing me in the past one year, and allowing me to find myself. My perspective on many things have changed. I learnt about intersectionality and my place in the world from various individuals. From day one, my confidence continued to grow by leaps and bounds. I feel assured of the direction in which I am going even though I can’t see the whole picture just yet, and the sense of peace that I have within is just incredible. Being at Gallaudet has helped me cultivate a sense of purpose for my life. I no longer feel lost and confused like I was a year ago.
9. The friends whom I’ve gotten to know better over the year, for new people whom I’ve met recently and the numerous networking opportunities that have presented itself.
10. The reminder that all the accolades I have received cannot equal to the grace by which I stand. I attended a church service last week and the pastor preached about the importance of not holding on to things have have no eternal value. The message was very timely. I recognize that all my achievements and successes are fleeting, and that for my work to have redemptive and lasting value, God must be involved in it. It reminded me of Matthew 6: 19-20 that says: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. It was a good wake up call to put God first in my life and to immerse myself daily in His word and prayer. I am praying that I will be able to because it is not easy especially with my full schedule. Actually, I am in great need of prayer for this because it is incredibly hard to do. I still have so much I need to grow and learn. I am also thankful that He has made me more aware of sin in my life and areas where I need to change.
I am certainly excited to see what the 2nd year of graduate school has in store for me when my summer hols are over even though the next fall semester will be my heaviest semester. Right now, I will just focus on enjoying every moment of the holidays for the next 3 months as it is a much needed break after being on the grind for the last 4 months. 🙂
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
~ Ephesians 3:20