It's been a very long time since I updated with a comprehensive post, so I'll try to just hit the highlights.
-I didn't have classes this past quarter, so I've been quite lonely. Instead, I spent the quarter finishing my thesis work.
-My thesis, "Institutional Connectivity: Toward an Expanded Theory of Student Engagement in Higher Education," went pretty well. There were a couple big bumps toward the end, consisting mostly of discovering major methodological mistakes I'd make, but on the whole, I uncovered some important data. The most important finding was intuitive, but curiously unresearched: a clear understanding of the intrinsic personal and social value of higher education - and one that deals with higher education for its own sake and not just as a conduit to a career - is every bit as essential to success and satisfaction as participation in activities and exposure to a variety of experiences.
-I presented my research at the annual CSU State Research Competition. I didn't win, but the presentation went well, and I had a good time. I learned that drinking with research nerds is the absolute right way to do it.
-I am presenting my research and recommendations to the Student Success Advisory Committee, which is essentially the administrative think-tank at CSUEB that determines academic planning, and they are going to use my findings as they see fit to influence institutional policy. The freshman advising team in the General Education program is already making changes to their focus based on my findings regarding meaningful vs. instrumental approaches to higher education.
-I HAVE MY MASTERS DEGREE! I am the first person in the history of my family to have one, and I think that's neat! (EDIT: "family" in this case refers to direct ancestors and immediate family. I have two cousins with advanced degrees.)
More Schooling/Moving to IL:
-I applied to 11 PhD programs. I got into two, about which I was less than thrilled. Be that as it may, I was accepted, and I will be starting my doctorate in Sociology at Urbana-Champaign in the Fall.
-My offer of admission also came with a full-ride scholarship, as well as a TA position in the Sociology department with a stipend of $14,250/yr. Pretty cool.
-The emphases of the program at UIUC do not match my own very well, about which I am apprehensive, but it's a middling-reputable program, and there are certain things I am looking forward to. For example, while the Sociology department doesn't do much in the way of theory, there is an entire interdisciplinary minor program for graduates called "The Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory." This looks promising.
-Caitlin and I have lined up a living arrangement in a duplex in Champaign, and are going to have far, FAR more space than we know what to do with. Including a guest bedroom, which I hope will constantly be occupied by visiting friends.
-Caitlin's job prospects are looking bright. She is going to be an extraordinarily large fish in what so far appears to be quite a bitty puddle.
-I've spent the last three months tutoring 5 girls between 6th and 8th grade. It has been intermittently rewarding and murderously frustrating. It has served mainly to shore up our cash reserves, and to remind me of why I want to teach only people over the age of 18.
-I've spent quite a bit of time these past few month dealing with issues of anxiety and depression. I won't say I've got it completely under control, but I'm doing pretty damn well considering where I was in February.
-My dad had a diabetic episode that resulted in having to have his toe amputated. It was startling for all of us, but thankfully he's healing like a maniac, and seems to have learned the necessary lesson from the event.
-I miss having friends. I have made a couple of friends in California, but for a variety of reasons, I haven't been very sociable while here, and so I've felt quite on my own. I suppose what I really miss isn't so much friends as "confidants" or the kind of extended friend-family of BSFFA. I'm really hoping I am able to take advantage of my second chance at this at UIUC and form some closer bonds with other humans.
-I'm drilling through my medium-term tasks list, and while I have failed to do some of the things on the list (or done others that I said I wouldn't), the 5 most impressive lines on my CV have "2011" in the date-column.
-I finished my Morpheus tattoo today, after meaning to do so for the last four years. My leg hurts, but it was totally the right thing to do.
And Because You've Been So Patient, Have Some Art:
g'night, my friends.