Monday, May 20, 2013


This was a big weekend for me and my classmates. Our graduation from La Follette was yesterday in the Assembly Chambers of the State Capitol building. The last two weeks have been a little hectic for me because I was a graduation coordinator and had a lot of things to get ready for our ceremony and reception. The weather was beautiful for our class photo and overall everything went well (although those hoods were a little warm!). 

It was wonderful to be surrounded by family and classmates and I think it was a very proud day for everyone. I also received the Director's Award, which was very exciting because it was a surprise. It is easy to forget about your accomplishments when you are surrounded by such smart and driven people, so I was honored and humbled to be singled out.

Walking back to my seat after accepting the Director's Award. 
We had lots of delicious meals (Sardine for brunch AND dinner, El Dorado, Roman Candle) and drank a lot of champagne. It was an awesome weekend with lots of sun and no homework involved!

Brunch at Sardine.
Brunch at Sardine.

Although I still have a group presentation in DC this week, everything for graduate school is basically done. In a few weeks I'll be back to learning something new at a full-time job, which got me thinking about the past few years in Madison.

A little over two years ago we had just moved to Madison and I had just confirmed my attendance in my Master's program. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into... at all. Graduate school at La Follette was way more challenging than I anticipated, but it was also more rewarding and more fun than I expected, too.

My capstone professor and the chosen faculty speaker, Prof. Manion.
I have often thought that I could have benefitted from an MBA or some other type of Master's degree, but I would have missed out on being surrounded by classmates and professors with the same interests and value of public service as me. The focus was always on how we could succeed at designing better policies and analyzing problems to help others. And it was all done through teamwork and helping each other out, instead of competing.

Post ceremony picture with Kelsey. My classic hungry graduation face.

The full-time job I have accepted doesn't require a Master's degree, but I have come to see the value in that past two years beyond what they could do for my career. I'm sure that my degree will help me a lot in the future, but what I appreciate the most has been the chance to learn, struggle, and stretch myself in ways that I didn't know were possible, all the while surrounded by great friends who were in the same boat (we also had a lot of fun, too). I have become a more mature thinker and am much more confident in my abilities to succeed in tough environments, which is invaluable to me no matter what I do with the rest of my life.

Policy Solutions group with our advisor, Prof. Weimer (missing Andrew!)

Of course I didn't do this on my own and want to give a special thank you to my mom and sister, who edited many papers, and to my friends and classmates who spent long hours working with me on stats and econ homework and dedicating themselves to our group projects (you guys know who you are). Plus the certain professors and staff at La Follette who believed in me enough to give me a fellowship and push me to work harder. Also, all of my parents, including my step-mom and in-laws, who pursued higher education and set a great example. And most importantly to Aaron, who picked me up from classes and meetings, cooked and cleaned, sat on the couch quietly while my groups met for hours in our apartment, and generally put up with me. Not to mention spent last summer without me. I'm ready to support you whenever you want to get another degree, Aaron!

Dinner at El Dorado
Can't graduate from UW without taking a picture at the Union.

1 comment:

  1. One of the very best weekends I've ever had. The walk back home with you was priceless, and I can't thank you enough for that.