Last spring, after my husband started reading From Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson, he decided that it was high time that I go after my career dreams. For years I have wanted to go back to school, but with kids and putting him through school a couple times it had been put on the back burner. I really liked the idea of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner. It would incorporate many parts of my current job that I love, but I would be able to have a broader scope of influence and more autonomy. It also means that I would be able to teach and I have to say that I love teaching nursing students almost as much as I love patient care. We looked into a few programs and found one in Colorado that was very appealing. It was ranked the 5th program in the nation and it’s not so far away that we wouldn’t see our families. I contacted them with questions and I was impressed that they were more helpful and prompt than other programs I had contacted. This was sounding like a pretty good plan.
So last summer, I gathered up my required documents and procured my letters of recommendation, submitted them and hoped for the best. But there was a hang-up. Back when I was a freshman and had wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life I went to UVSC and took a whole bunch of institute classes. When I transferred to BYU, they happily excepted these credits. When the College of Nursing in Colorado was reviewing my BYU transcript they asked ‘What are these 8 mystery credits from the Orem Institute without any course numbers or descriptions?’
‘Those aren’t real college credits. They’re religion classes.’
‘But you got college credit for them, and they were applied to your bachelor’s degree. We need to see a transcript.’
Oi. I then contacted the Orem Institute of Religion, who was not very helpful. They refused to write down what my name was when I was a student or the address that I wanted the transcript sent to. After a week they called and said that they could see me in the system and could tell who my bishop was, but they couldn’t find my transcript so they needed to know what classes I took and who my teachers were. That was 11 years previous. I don’t remember who my teachers were. And I don’t remember all of the classes that I took. They finally decided to just make something up and said they would take care of it. I didn’t feel particularly honest about ‘making something up’ for my graduate school application, but what control did I have. I called again later to make sure it was taken care of and found out that instead of mailing the transcript to Colorado, they had mailed it to BYU-Hawaii. I really have no idea where they came up with that one, but that’s how it happened. After 5 phone calls over a few weeks, things were finally squared away.
However, by that point they had already starting reviewing applications and sending out invitations for interviews. My application was incomplete, so I was out of luck. It was frustrating, but I see how that was fair. It appeared that I didn’t put in the effort to get my entire act together; why should they take me seriously? It’s a highly ranked school and program that only accepts 6-10 people twice a year, they don’t really have time for people who don’t appear to be committed. My husband was fuming that I didn’t get into graduate school because some people at the Church Education System are incompetent. The College of Nursing did encourage me to apply again in the spring and take an online class or two while I waited. It’s always somewhat disappointing to be rejected, but I really felt okay about it. The thought of selling our house and changing my kids’ school mid-year did not sound like my idea of a good time. And taking classes online made me feel even more confident that I wanted to go to school there. Everyone I interacted with seemed nice, passionate and organized. I love that.
A couple months ago I applied a second time, and received an interview invitation. Wahoo! So we packed our family up for a trip to Denver. On the way we hit a snow storm and despite being very careful, got stuck in the snow and had to be towed. (We counted 7 others who were in our same predicament.) We got to our hotel hours after we expected, but we were grateful that we were safe. My husband and I were strung out on adrenaline from a stressful drive and neither of slept well from the stress and anxiety. This was kind of big deal. It could have a major effect on the trajectory of the rest of our lives. No pressure.
In the morning I found a note slid under the door from the front desk. They wished me luck on my interview and included a gift certificate for a cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but I figured if I have ever needed a caffeine boost it was then. And it was so nice of the lady at the front desk to do that for me. The problem was I quickly discovered that my stomach and coffee don’t really agree very much. I walked into the interview with bloodshot eyes and not feeling my finest. The interview was a group interview, which I wasn’t expecting. Of the 18 of who interviewed, that had 4-5 of us meet at a time. I felt kind of weird about it. When someone else gives an answer, I didn’t want to say “Ditto, what she said”, and I didn’t want to sound like I was one-upping anyone who had gone before me either. I walked out feeling like I hadn’t come across as a psychopath, but I didn’t feel like had given a stellar performance either. I did however feel like I nailed the essay part. Taking nursing theory this semester gave me several quotes and studies to incorporate and give as examples. I took reassurance that a few of the applicants were griping that they expected nurses to write essays because nurses don’t generally even chart in complete sentences. One thing I have going for me is that I enjoy writing. The process took nearly 5 hours, including a tour and a few mini-classes.
Through the experience I was so grateful for my husband. He was so supportive through the whole experience. I don’t think just any man would drive white-knuckled through a snow storm for me. He took the kids to breakfast and a park for the morning while I was at the interview and took care of so many little things before I had a chance to so I didn’t have to stress about it. The way he talked he made it sound like it was obvious that I had already gotten in. (I was not so confident, but it’s nice that he believes in me.) Not every man is supportive of their wife going to school and having a career, but mine is and I love him to pieces for it.
After the interview I vacillated between having anxiety because I thought of much better answers to the interview questions than the ones I gave and calm. Even if I don’t get in, it’s okay. There are other things for me to do in this world. There are other programs, I can find other ways to make a difference. And I was impressed with my own insignificance. Throughout my childhood was strongly impressed that I was ‘special'; I was chosen. Chosen to be born in this day, into the United States and LDS Church. No, I can’t say that I’m any more important than any other applicant or any other person that I meet. I have the power to be a force for good, and I may have opportunities that others may not have, but that doesn’t make me better than anyone else. Spiritual moments of calm aside, I still really wanted to get in. And my kids were completely convinced that living in Colorado would be awesome. Applicants would be notified by April 18th.
Last week I got an email informing me that I was accepted. Wahoo! And for a couple days I was kind of in shock. My life is about to change in a big way. Since then, more stress has set in. We’re getting ready for a new adventure. I have so much to do. I need to fix up some things around my house. I need to sell my house. I need to get rid of so much unnecessary stuff. I need to pack and it’s the end of the semester and I have four projects to do, which I should probably get back to. Exciting stuff.