This article is a blog post

Searching for Scholarships?

Don’t let the howling winter weather fool you, spring is right around the corner. And that means scholarship deadlines are nearly due.

There are thousands of scholarship opportunities for students of every age, race, location and academic discipline. Some are even have very specific requirements that include heritage, club membership or even hobbies meaning that the pool of applicants is tiny and your chance of winning is high.

But first, you have to find those scholarships and apply for them.

Below is a list of websites that specifically cater to military families and either host or have compiled comprehensive lists of scholarships for military members and their families:

https://www.usveteransmagazine.com/list-of-military-scholarships-for-service-members-spouses-and-dependents/

https://militarybenefits.info/base-clubs-offer-scholarships-for-military-spouses/

https://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/transition/military-spouse-scholarships/

https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-type/military-scholarships/

https://www.military.com/spousebuzz/2018/01/05/help-your-military-teen-apply-2018-scholarship.html

https://www.vfw.org/Scholarship/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs9zSBRC5ARIsAFMtUXHHrX0CGjnlpm3M2D07DwmwSDABPP5iEiwMjR-dqm-p-wHhxnE0gJoaAuMlEALw_wcB

Below is a list of general scholarships available to a wider population, outside of the military:

www.collegescholarships.org 

https://scholarshipowl.com

www.scholarshippoints.com

https://www.infaithfound.org/newsgrants/scholarships?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs9zSBRC5ARIsAFMtUXGNdNqUyuKDGTqCCqi4qzdvX68A8GOK_8NXl9RbOoj_XWYiNX7-V4waAg57EALw_wcB

To conduct your own scholarship search online, begin by searching by school, state, choice of major or career field. Also search for scholarships given out for athletes and other types of hobbies.

If you find a scholarship that you think you fit the qualifications for, but the deadline has passed, post a note in your calendar to search it again in the coming months. If you qualify again, be certain to apply before the next deadline.

Searching and applying for college money may seem like a fruitless effort. There are thousands of people vying for much of the same money. But if you persevere and continue to fill out each form attentively and carefully you never know how or when that dedication might pay off, or pay in full for your academic dreams.

Chemistry, Round Two

By Amy Nielsen

My spring term starts on Sunday - back to the grind, churning onward on the educational treadmill of my Master’s program.

As we are stuck inside today with the giant snowstorm roaring outside I decided to take the time to prepare my folders and brain for the coming onslaught of knowledge.

I failed chemistry by exactly 1.68 points last term, so I have to take it again. I had three options to retake it this time around. I could take exactly the same class I just took; same professor, same lectures, same everything, and be done with it. Bonus to this plan is that I know exactly what to expect. I felt like if I had had three more weeks I could have made up the missing points and passed.

The second option is to take the class online from a different professor. Some classmates say the other professor is clearer, others say she is more difficult. Her class is structured differently with her own quiz and assignment calendar. At this point I am not sure whether it is more important to make the passing grade in the class or actually understand something as dastardly as organic chemistry.

I could also opt to take the class on campus. My classmates who are closer to campus like the professor who teaches the seated section. She is funny, engaging, and makes the impossible material comprehensible. It also only meets five weekends of a 15-week term. The downside is that campus is a five hour commute. The added expense of hotels for the weekends makes it tough to justify skipping the online option.

I ended up choosing to take the exact same class again. I feel that since I know what to expect, the structure of the class and this specific professor’s style, I can pass and maybe even understand an eensie weensie little bit more of a topic that brings some of my most learned friends to tears.

As is required, I get to take another cooking class. This time I scheduled it at the very beginning of the term to get it out of the way, as we have to go to campus for it. That might have been a mistake as it is January and we are talking about travel between New York City and Baltimore. We’ll see if the weather genies play nicely with the snow balls at the end of the month.

I did after all, opt to take one, three-credit class on campus this term, human macronutrients. Everyone in my cohort, without fail, said to avoid the online version of this class - at all costs.

So while I won’t save the travel expense in the long run, I will get a much better experience for that extra expense by taking this class on campus. The class meeting weekends also happen to line up neatly with a few events local on campus that I want to attend.

I hope I have the brain power for opera after six hours of human macronutrients. Mercifully, this class starts later in the term than the others so I have a chance to wrap my head and wallet around the travel plans.

I could take chemistry on the same weekends as human macronutrients, if I want my head to explode.

Rounding out my program I have two more online classes. One is a short, one-credit elective and the other is a core requirement for my area of concentration within my Master’s program. I was excited to get the elective out of the way as later terms will be jammed with my Capstone Project.

Then I went to print off the materials for the little elective and realized that if it looks too good to be true – it probably is. This little, fun, one-credit elective is going to be the biggest pain in my butt this term. We have to go on field trips. We have to post pre-trip exploratory essays. We have to post pictures from our field trips. Oh and it gets better, as if we are not already feeling like grade schoolers, we have to write commentary on each-other’s posts. So much work for a fun, little, minimal work elective.

The silver lining is that with all of the travel to a different city, I will for sure be able to complete the field trips to places I have never been before. But really, busy work makes me nuts.

The last class on my roster is the first of my core requirements for my area of concentration, Community Health Education. The class is Foundations in Health Behavior. This professor may be able to get a person to eat broccoli in 17 new ways but she sure as heck can’t get her class documents loaded to the classroom in the right order or in an accessible format.

I have stepped through the first 8 segments in the opening section of materials for the class and have had to email her for access to or to inform her of missing documents three times already. This does not bode well for this class. I am going to have to keep on top of this one for sure.

So my term seems to be shaping up nicely. I have a lot of travel planned for school. Added to newly planned travel for my daughter’s medical treatment, prepaid events, and well, life – I think I might just take this last gasp of Christmas, Epiphany weekend, and listen to the snowy wind howl, visit some far flung friends, eat up the remainder of the lebkuchen and vanocka, and take a deep breath before this whirlwind tromp to March begins.

 

Retirement means change for military kids too

My kids started their first post-retirement school in August. A couple of months in, I asked my 16-year-old if he had made any friends yet.

“Not really,” he said. “There just aren’t any other kids like me.”

We often talk about how active duty servicemembers lose their bearings when they leave the military. They might feel lost, their feeling of purpose gone and their sense of working toward a clear objective stripped away. Their peers are no longer around to share war stories. They feel like they have nothing in common with anyone.

As spouses, we feel that, too. Our tribe is no longer next door or upstairs or down the street.

Kids, in a lot of ways, lose their sense of identity with retirement, too. They are no longer surrounded by kids “just like” them. Kids whose parents are in the military and are used to moving every one to three years. Kids who have traveled to places others only dream about. Kids who have been immersed in a multi-racial community all their lives. Kids who know what the world is like outside the four walls of their high school.

Kids who will almost always welcome a new friend.

Just like us, kids fear the unknown. They might be stressed by mom or dad not having a job, or by hearing their parents talk about whether they have enough money to get through the transition of retirement.

In trying to help my kids adjust, I turned to my go-to expert: Google. Several searches with different variants of “helping kids adjust to military retirement” or “kids and military retirement” turned up nothing.

There’s tons of information on how help kids adjust after a regular PCS, and many of those tips apply to retirement. But here are some more specific things we can do to help our kids, especially teenagers, have a smooth transition:

  1. Have a retirement ceremony, and make the sure the kids are recognized. This will help give them closure, just like it does for the servicemember and spouse. And it will let them see that mom or dad is walking away from the military with a clean slate, ready for a fresh start.
  2. Keep them informed every step of the way. Explain what retirement means, and what will happen on a weekly or monthly basis as you transition. Get them a calendar and write down important dates like the ceremony, pack-out dates and the first night in your new home.
  3. Before retirement, try to have them involved in some sort of activity that will translate well to civilian life. Sports and scouting are two examples.
  4. Give them a say. For the first time ever, you can move wherever you want. Some people might choose to go where they get a job, others might pick based on location. Either way, get the kids involved. Make it clear that you will make the final decision based on many factors, but that you value their input.
  5. Once the location is chosen, give them a chance again to provide input. Let them look at schools and sports programs and other activities. Many communities have magnet schools and school choice programs, and teens especially should be hands-on in making those kinds of choices.
  6. Explain your situation to school administrators, the counselor, teachers … anyone who will interact with your child. Tell them that you are going through a big transition and ask them to look out for your kids. Many will be amazed at the life you (and your kids) have lead.
  7. By the same token, encourage your kids to share stories about their adventures in military life with their teachers and peers. They just might become famous as “the kid who’s from Germany” or “the kids who’s lived in 10 different states!”
  8. Talk often about your memories of moving, traveling and military life in general.
  9. Connect with old military friends in or near your new location. We all have friends all over the world!
  10. Make new friends yourself. Connect with other parents at the school through sports teams, clubs or other activities. Your kids will feel more comfortable with their new surroundings you’re involved.

Remind your kids that military life prepares you to face any mission. They can do this. (And so can you!)

Military Spouse Career Fairs in January

New year. New you? If 2018 is the year you are determined to take the next step in your career, start at the most military spouse friendly job fair in America – the spouse hiring events hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The organization hosts hiring fairs across the nation every month and cater to military spouses and military members. The companies that attend specifically want to hire military spouses and former military members because of the wide range of skills they possess.

The transition summits are also for service members, veterans, and military spouses. These summits feature key federal and state agencies, influential military leaders, innovators in the business and employer communities, and local community leaders.

This two-day transition summits will feature interactive and informative panel discussions, recruiter training, and facilitated discussions focused on improving competitive employment for service members, veterans, and military spouses. The summit will also include a networking reception for employers, military leaders, and job seekers, and will culminate in a hiring fair on the second day. 

All of these events are free but you must register online to attend. Don’t forget to register as many sell out.

To see a list of all 2018 events, visit https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/events/hiringfairs

 

Jan. 19, 2018

Fort Irwin Transition Summit

Fort Irwin, Calif.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/fort-irwin-transition-summit

Jan. 23

Fort Stewart Transition Summit

Fort Stewart, Ga.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/fort-stewart-transition-summit-0

Oklahoma City Hiring Expo

Oklahoma City, Okla.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/oklahoma-city-hiring-expo-oklahoma-city-thunder

Jan. 31

Camp Pendleton

Oceanside, Calif.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/camp-pendleton-military-spouse-hiring-event

New year, new minimum wage for some

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, the minimum wage is going up in 2018 – maybe. It depends on where you live.

Advocates for minimum wage increase have pushed local and state governments to bring the minimum wages closer to $15 an hour, what advocates consider a “living wage.”

Some states are jumping salaries by just a few quarters, others by a mere dime. Some states also have set a schedule that will raise the minimum wage slightly each year until it hits the $15 mark. Congress hasn’t voted on a minimum wage raise in more than 10 years.

While some raises were issued at the state level, others were granted by city or county governments. Check the list below for the locations and the minimum wage that took affect on Jan. 1.

Alaska: $9.84 an hour

Albuquerque, New Mexico: $8.95 an hour

Arizona: $10.50 an hour

Bernalillo County, New Mexico: $8.85 an hour

California: $11 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees

Colorado: $10.20 an hour

Cupertino, California: $13.50 an hour

El Cerrito, California: $13.60 an hour

Flagstaff, Arizona: $11 an hour

Florida: $8.25 an hour

Hawaii: $10.10 an hour

Los Altos, California: $13.50 an hour

Maine: $10 an hour

Michigan: $9.25 an hour

Milpitas, California: $12 an hour

Minneapolis, Minnesota: $10 an hour for businesses with more than 100 employees

Minnesota: $9.65 an hour for businesses with annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more; $7.87 an hour for businesses with annual gross revenue of less than $500,000

Missouri: $7.85 an hour

Montana: $8.30 an hour

Mountain View, California: $15 an hour

New Jersey: $8.60 an hour

New York: $13 an hour for standard New York City businesses with 11 for more employees; $12 an hour for standard New York City businesses with 10 or fewer employees; $11 an hour for standard workers in Long Island and Westchester; $10.40 for standard workers in the rest of New York state; $13.50 for fast food workers in New York City; $11.75 for fast food workers in the rest of the state

Oakland, California: $13.23 an hour

Ohio: $8.30 an hour

Palo Alto, California: $13.50 an hour

Rhode Island: $10.10 an hour

Richmond, California: $13.41 an hour

San Jose, California: $13.50 an hour

San Mateo, California: $13.50 an hour for standard businesses; $12 an hour for nonprofits

Santa Clara, California: $13 an hour

SeaTac, Washington: $15.64 an hour for hospitality and transportation employees

Seattle, Washington: $15.45 an hour for businesses with 501 or more employees that don't offer medical benefits; $15 an hour for businesses with 501 or more employees that do offer medical benefits; $14 an hour for businesses with 500 or fewer employees that don't offer medical benefits; $11.50 an hour for businesses with 500 or fewer employees that do offer medical benefits

South Dakota: $8.85 an hour

Sunnyvale, California: $15 an hour

Tacoma, Washington: $12 an hour

Vermont: $10.50 an hour

Washington state: $11.50 an hour

What’s new in the workplace for 2018?

The New Year is here and with it come expert’s predictions for workplace trends in 2018. Stop grasping the mouse. So far, it all appears … positive.

At Forbes magazine the staff there has been making workplace trend predictions since 2013 by conducting global surveys and interviewing hundreds of workers and executives. Of their top ten, our favorite predictions are:

Financial help with student loans: Forbes reports that 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and student loan debt is at $1.4 trillion. That makes for some pretty stressed out workers. The magazine reports that nearly half of employees have financial concerns that has caused them to lose an average of six work days annually. As a result more employers are helping their employees pay back student loans.

Mental health will be a priority: Forbes also reports that mental health issues like depression can cause employees to miss five days of work annually, but more importantly they may have 11.5 days of reduced productivity every three months, resulting in $17 to $44 billion lost. Forward thinking companies are now stepping forward to help employees get the healthcare they need. Some have even provided 24/7 access to counseling.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also does an annual year-end roundup of where they think U.S. jobs will peak and fall in the New Year. In 2018 Baby Boomers are still not heading home to retire. The bureau predicts that while this group, now all aged 55 and above will continue to work their aging will “dramatically lower the overall labor force participation rate and the growth of the labor force.” What that means is that this aging population will still be competing for jobs in the workplace but overall the growth of the number of employees in the workplace will slow.

The unemployment rate will continue to decline and if you want to head into the hottest fields for 2018, look to healthcare, personal care, social assistance and construction when you are considering paths of study.

At Small Business Trends.com predictions there for 2018 also look more at easing employees’ stress levels. Work/life balance trends will change, giving employees the opportunity to change schedules and social and work interaction to fit their lifestyle.

Don’t like the device the office has provided you? May not matter in 2018. Small Business Trends.com predicts that small businesses will allow employees to use their own devices for company business. And even though the use of technology will increase in 2018, Small Business Trends.com also predicts companies will stress face time over screen time between employees for collaboration, brainstorming and social interaction.

Want to read more workplace trend predictions for 2018? Please visit:

 

https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/12/2018-workplace-trends.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2017/11/01/10-workplace-trends-youll-see-in-2018/#4b40681a4bf2

The gift of life and random acts of kindness

By Amy Nielsen

This is going to be short and sweet this week seeing as it is New Year’s Eve and all. Honestly, I have had a really hard time coming up to this specific day. I put a lot of stock in this year and I feel very much like I am none too far beyond where I was on this day last year. I was having a good ol’ pitty party and feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Then, bam! Something happens for two dear friends out of the blue that is quite literally in the last seconds, lifesaving. Not once, but twice in the same week, friends have received organs through donation.

And absolutely nothing I have or had to say about anything in my life suddenly mattered anymore.

If you are able, please, please, please, I am going to get on my knees here and even beg you – become an organ donor. Then keep it up and become aware of the kinds of lives you may touch if you are called upon. Make sure your immediate family members are aware of your decision and willing to act on your behalf.

Your organs could literally save the life of another.

So as 2017 ends, a year in which so much has been blown to bits in all corners of decent society, please, take the time to become an organ donor in 2018.

It is the ultimate random act of kindness.

https://organdonor.gov/index.html

My love, honor, respect, and dedication to those whose lives were lost so my friends might live.

Lessons to carry forward

By Amy Nielsen

This last week of the year is always fraught with peril for me. I spend half the time in high elation with the blush of Yuletide faeries and hearty fare still ringing through my head and belly, and the other half in defeated panic about all the things I said I would accomplish and find instead lying in varying piles around my house resembling so many miniature towers of Pisa gathering dust in corners and on steps.

Being the season for space between the worlds my sun sign matters a lot right now – I’m a Taurus Gemini exact cusp, completely black and white flip flopping about everything and decidedly bullheaded about it. Groan.

I saw a meme a few weeks ago that said, “Stories shared stay in this space, while lessons learned may leave with grace.” Another followed last week saying, “Grace is having a relationship with someone’s heart not their behavior.” Then this morning I awoke to a quote posted by a friend that said, “Grace will take you places hustling won’t.” While all very different these quotes all stuck me as something I need to pay attention to.

I usually take this time to set apart a space to write about a word that has come to my center over the last year or one that feels like a stepping stone into the New Year. I am not really resolutions kind of gal. I find them restrictive and confining, being that fickle sign of twins. This year in particular I am having great difficulty finding not only the time to write about my year but also exactly what to write about. I feel jittery and unsettled. More so than my usual seasonally adjusted freakishness.

I somehow feel like I am poised on the verge of a do-over year, one where I get the chance to make amends or pull my crap together in a way that this past year didn’t allow me to. Maybe I get to catch the balls I so casually tossed up in the air last year.  I understand that I have a chance to do something, something good and something really worthwhile, but that I have to be very, very clear to take lessons from this year forward with me.

If I listen carefully and read closely, I get the sense that the tauran full steam ahead attitude I have been racing along under for the last year is about to turn into a very different ride, I am about to reach a point where I must take my time or will well and truly screw up some potentially extremely rewarding and important work. Not only professionally, but also academically and personally.

I have learned a huge amount this past year. I completed two academic projects I started the previous year, two that were integral to getting me to where I am now. I spent a crazy amount of time connecting with far flung friends and closer acquaintances putting my presence where my presents used to suffice. I made several interesting and fun business connections through mutual social connections that have potential to drive dynamic professional change.

I am however a bull in a china shop when it comes to expounding to one and all my proudly new learned knowledge. I find myself regularly feeling awfully sophomoric among groups of friends these days. It makes me want to shovel sugar cookies in my mouth to stop talking at holiday parties. If I’m cooking up a storm I can’t be professing my love for a theory in a convoluted Facebook post that will haunt me every year on this day until eternity.

It has come to my attention that what I need to cultivate is grace.

My Mom used to chant, “Patience is a virtue. Virtue is a grace. Grace is a little girl who forgot to wash her face.” My Dad used to tell me, “Tough, do it anyway, Grace.”

So what exactly is grace? I know that ballet dancers are graceful and that if one is inspired by certain religious beliefs, grace is bestowed by a greater being to redeem an abhorrent action. While I have certainly been told I am a graceful dancer and I know for a fact I have been the recipient of profound Divine grace; grace is also, “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency” according to Merriam-Webster. It is this definition that suits my sensibility best.

In reading for this post I found this quote, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” Perfection is hard. Like so many, I am a perfectionist, but I am also a realist – going back to that bull headed twin. I can see if I will be good at something and get the hang of it very quickly, however I will also assume I am not good at something and won’t even try – or worse, if forced, will intentionally muck it up – just to prove I was right about me.

Moving from perfection and its easy black and white judgement to grace with its messy touchy feely greyness is going to take time and patience and presence. It is going to take lots of deep breaths and probably none too few inappropriately placed eye rolls. For me personally it is going to take faking it until I make it to some degree.

Grace asks me to touch parts of me that I chose to keep locked away. Grace takes feeling and understanding that within discord there is always hope. Grace teaches that with great power comes great responsibility and that that responsibility is to the other not to self. Grace demands gentleness, kindness, and strength.

Grace is a deeper sense of understanding. It means taking the time to see, hear, and feel the whole of an experience in order to reach more compassionate conclusion within the situation. It means slowing down. It means being present. It means taking a breath. It is the space in the pause. It is reaching into that space inside, the vulnerable part, that squishy soft stuff, and feeling compassion for oneself.

So I take grace into the New Year with me. Perhaps with grace I will learn to control the all on or all off nature of my flip-flopping beastly gemini-taurus self. Perhaps in grace I will find the professed Yuletide peace, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year.

The 12 Days of Retirement

Today, an ode to an old Christmas favorite, and some of the new challenges of retirement. Happy Holidays to all!

On the first day of Christmas, retirement gave to me … one grateful nation.

On the second day of Christmas, retirement gave to me … two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the third day of Christmas retirement gave to me … three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the fourth day of Christmas retirement gave to me … four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the fifth day of Christmas retirement gave to me … five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the sixth day of Christmas retirement gave to me … six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the seventh day of Christmas retirement gave to me … seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the eighth day of Christmas retirement gave to me … eight VA appointments, seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the ninth day of Christmas retirement gave to me … nine job rejections, eight VA appointments, seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the 10th day of Christmas retirement gave to me … 10 days of travel, nine job rejections, eight VA appointments, seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the 11th day of Christmas retirement gave to me … 11 packers packing, 10 days of travel, nine job rejections, eight VA appointments, seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

On the 12th day of Christmas retirement gave to me … 12 friends farewelling, 11 packers packing, 10 days of travel, nine job rejections, eight VA appointments, seven days of briefings, six cold ones chilling, five graying hairs, four panic attacks, three DD214s, two pack out dates and one grateful nation.

Redefining Failure – Grad School Style

By Amy Nielsen

Failure: /noun/ 1) lack of success, 2) the omission of expected or required action. (Google Dictionary)

So I did it.

Completed my first term as a Master’s candidate and, I failed a class. I failed organic chemistry. I was barely failing for the first third of the term. Then, miraculously, I was passing after I got really lucky on a quiz and scored high enough to just pop over the passing threshold. I gained confidence and kept up the miniscule margin of positive points I accumulated, until the final exam. Which, I flat out bombed.

I was fairly certain I would fail the final exam, but after my recent successes, I was tentatively hopeful I might eek out a pass. Even though we only had one chance at this exam, unlike the weekly quizzes which always had two chances, the professor allotted ample time to complete the exam. In fact that extra time is what did me in. Time always does.

This was an online final exam of 70 multiple choice questions, no essays, open book, no proctor. I am pretty certain even if you had never taken a single organic chemistry class in your life, in the four hours we were to complete the exam, given good google-fu and a bit of extrapolation, one could search for every answer and probably pass. I, however, let the clock run away with my brain. Again.

I spent several agonizing hours the night before I scheduled myself to take the test realizing that the time limit gave me exactly three minutes to answer each question. Not a lot of time at all. The week before, I had submitted my timed physiology exam with literally 22 seconds to spare, having posted only a rough outline for the last essay question. I still get a twist in my stomach when I remember seeing that number. Time is my nemesis.

We had a week between our last quiz and the due date for the exam. I took my time preparing to study. I had several obligations to meet both at home and for other classes. I needed a brain break after the final week push of information that all professors are culpable of. I wanted to start getting into the holiday spirit.

I scheduled myself to take the exam a full 24 hours before the due date and time. I have little enough confidence in technology and my track record with it when I am anxious and stressed to expect things to go wrong and I allow time to fix it. This term the error happened in another class, and for that I am thankful. If it had happened with this exam I would have just tossed my hands in the air and given up on the spot.

I spent the morning of my exam day gathering my materials. Thankfully my professor is not a jerk, he just teaches in a style I have great difficulty learning from. To his credit, his exam prep tools and notes were exceptionally helpful and without them I would have failed even more catastrophically. I then proceeded to procrastinate my way through a lingering lunch.

When I did finally sit down at this very keyboard to answer 70 simple multiple choice questions, I was ready to throw up and run away to Mars.

The stinging experience of my physiology exam still smarting on my conscious, I set both the kitchen timer and my phone stop watch to count down in sync. That’s when my brain started running away with me. I couldn’t help but keep repeating the math to calculate 70 questions into four hours. This might seem like a simple mantra like problem for some, but for me it is a lengthy engrossing task – I have dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. Math is especially hard, yet somehow, my brain turns to math problems in times of anxiety – especially when time is involved. So while I am trying to focus and concentrate on how to name the squiggle drawing on the page, I keep hearing the answer three minutes in the back of my mind. Three minutes.

Are you looking that up fast enough? Did I spend too much time on that answer? Oh, that one was easy to find. Wait, that was too easy, look it up again. Ugh, too much time, it was right. Moving on.

I did this until I reached question 70 and looked up at the timer and saw it was only two and a half hours into the exam. I still had plenty of time to go back and recheck the answers. But how much time could I spend on each answer this time around.

And off to the races my brain went with its jockey time.

Which is when I made a choice. I stopped. I listened to what I was doing. I felt how much tighter my stomach was getting as I calculated again and again. I decided in a split second that while there was a remote possibility I could squeeze out a pass for this class if I pushed hard and long – to the end of that allotted time – I could maybe pass this exam. But Lordy, another hour and a half of that jockey on my back, driving me to clench my hands so hard typing they cramped.

Submit.

And in the next instant I had my answer. I had failed.

Not only was the exam grade calculated instantly, the course grade was as well as all other assignments for the term were graded and posted.

I failed by exactly 1.02 points. But a fail is still a fail.

The well of emotion began to ebb and I realized I was not angry. I was not frustrated. I was not even too ruffled, apart from the frazzling I took from the two and a half hours of exam panic. I was in fact almost at peace.

What I had come to realize was that this class was not about learning and passing organic chemistry, it was about learning to be a competent, confident, applied student. While I may have failed organic chemistry the first time, and in that I join a very large club so I don’t really feel a failure, I succeeded in learning how to be a better student and by extension a better teacher.

Redefining a failure, seeing the moral in the lesson is as much a part of a good Master’s program as is passing foundation curriculum.

 

Pages

$6,000 SCHOLARSHIP
For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

© 2013 SALUTE TO SPOUSES ALL RIGHTS RESERVED