Questioning the academy with courage.

What happens when I am afraid of the next step? When I am actively deciding the next choice, but the decision feels required; I live in a reality of several expectations:

  • I have to provide for my tiny humans (I do not do this alone.)
  • I have to make effectual change for those who are the victims of decades of institutional failure
  • I have to be valued in my work, and I have to value my work
  • My work has to be meaningful to be worthy of taking time away from my family…

I have had great teachers that forced me to reach my highest ‘potential’. It is such an arbitrary level to reach by your self…  I had to sit an “interview” of sorts for a self-created dual graduate program I would like to begin in January. (I made an excel spreadsheet to illustrate how I could complete both program requirements in a realistic and timely fashion.) The director was worried it was “ambitious”. I answered, “Yup, ambition is required to achieve my goals.” Maybe my worry resides in my ambition?

When did we start questioning ambition? When did we start doubting discipline as a driving force for achieving our goals? I have real life soup-line experience; I mapped out the plan, I have a check in hand, stellar research, job experience, knowledge of the scholarship, and I can speak your crazy academic language well enough to play ball!!! I get your halls of academia, and just because I call bullshit to their prestige does not mean I do not know how to preform.

I have a love/hate relationship with the academia. Really, who does not love the ability to sit passively and develop the questions they want to answer, within well lit and well heated offices, surrounded by eager students desperate to do their dogged research, to answer their well thought out questions? That readers, is a freaking glamorous reality. I teach students who are homeless, and hungry. I teach students who do not trust me, because no institution has ever let them succeed.

So yeah, I am terrified, because the job is so large. The degrees are just a stepping-stone; I have to “credential- up” to speak their language. The letters at the end of my name require determination. They will require a shit ton of work. Simply put, it is an ambitious endeavor. My whole damn life has been a lesson in drive, in ambition and sheer willpower to fight against the policy, statistics, and politics that determine my possibilities. I have to fight for my untrusting students, for their families.

These five paragraphs have taught me that fear births humility. I will take my ambition and raise you practical experience. I will bring my training to your academy, and I will make a difference. Fear is my fuel, and courage is found in the fact that someone has to do this work. Someone has to speak the reality in the echoing halls of the academy. It’s ambitious because it has to be. #bringit

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