What a wonderful experience to finally have something important to decide once more! No words in any language that I know can express how truly humbled and grateful I felt after being accepted into both graduate programs that I loved. University of Birmingham and University of Manchester are both fantastic schools, both ranked in the top 400 universities in the world and the top 25 in the UK. (Yes, both schools are in England.) And both of the programs that I applied to are stellar. So I was a little overwhelmed with how to choose! (And yet so grateful that I COULD choose!)
Of course my brother Skylar served in the Manchester Mission, and therefore could help me in a lot of ways with info, contacts, etc. That was a huge plus! However, the program at Birmingham includes an individual fieldwork component as part of my dissertation research. Everyone in the NGO world can tell you that hands-on field experience goes a L O N G way when it comes to job searching. And seeing as how I've technically been unemployed since January 2011, increased employability is a HUMUNGOUS plus. I spent hours researching both programs, schools, professors and staff, scholarships, cities, attractions, institutes, distances to all the family history sites I hope to visit, etc. I made lists. LOTS of LISTS. And as I felt myself pulled in one direction more than another, I made my decision and prayed about it. I felt fine... nothing earth-shattering or spectacularly confirming after praying. So I let it marinate in my mind and heart for a few days. While doing that, I talked to Skylar, and a few other friends who have studied in the UK or currently work in the nonprofit world. I REALLY wanted to make the BEST decision for ME. And I realized I was still leaning towards that same school. So I concluded that was my decision. I prayed and fasted and attended the temple before clicking on that "Accept Offer" button, just to make sure. Then one night I had a dream where I was telling a bunch of strangers where I was going to grad school. When I woke up, any residual doubt had been swept away and I accepted the offer that morning.
So WHERE, you ask, am I going to grad school? The University of Birmingham!!! My course is the MSc in International Development (Conflict, Security, and Development pathway). It starts 30 September 2013, and takes one year to complete. Despite being the more difficult option in most aspects, it is the program and school and city that best fit with my needs. And I've never shied away from doing hard things before, so I'm certainly not going to start now!
Since accepting the offer I have dived into a flurry of activity filling out forms and paperwork for all sorts of details. I have also started my part-time, volunteer internship with Women's Voices Now as their Partnership and Outreach representative. Thankfully I do it from home, so it is super flexible with all my travels over the next several weeks. I'm LOVING it! It is an organization that I can endorse without reservation. You should all check it out! www.womensvoicesnow.org. They have an online Film Festival as a continuation of the short-film festival event they hosted last year, so all the short-films are available to watch for free on their website. My job is to research organizations and individuals that could potentially be great partners for WVN, develop a Potential Partner info packet, contact them, and be the WVN representative to work with them once they become partners. No small task for a lowly intern, but I'm stoked! I'm still in the research and development phase, but it's going well so far. Though I will admit to spending about 5x longer than I was told to per week working on it. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to do the best job I can, for both our sakes, right?
Needless to say, life over the last month has picked up significantly, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it!