I was in Denton Monday morning to take the oral examination required to complete my Master's program. I decided last fall that I was going to switch my degree plan from the thesis option to the non-thesis option. I wasn't making the progress needed to get my thesis finished, and knew that with this new job I really just needed to get done with my degree once a for all. With the non-thesis option, I had to take two more classes (which I am juggling right now) and take an oral examination covering my course work. This essentially consists of me sitting at the head of a conference table while three of my professors asked me questions (not about dates or battles, but about historians and the different arguments in the field of history. Graduate level history is nothing like your undergraduate history classes!) for an hour and a half. After an hour and a half, I had to leave the room for them to deliberate whether or not I had demonstrated that I knew what I was talking about. Sounds simple enough, right? Ha!
I was terrified on Monday morning. At different times I thought I was going to pass out or throw up, or both! I knew that everything that I had worked towards depended on this moment, and I was more nervous than I have ever been in my entire life. I was a little jittery and started talking way too fast, but I calmed down after a few minutes and everything went very smoothly. They only made me wait about three minutes (although it was the longest three minutes of my life!) before bringing me back in and congratulated me on passing. Oh sweet relief! I was so happy and relieved that I felt weak in the knees as I walked to the bookstore to buy my graduation regalia. I was so excited that I didn't even care that I technically have four more weeks of class to finish, because the hard part is done! Finishing these last few weeks will be a breeze compared to the studying that I agonized over the past two months.
Working on my Master's while working full time has been one of the hardest things that I have ever done. This program was so absolutely time consuming, but it all had to be done at night or on the weekend. My classmates were all amazed when they found out that I was also working a full time job. I would have loved to be one of those lucky people that go to school full time and not have to worry about work, but that was just not the plan that worked for me.
I feel such a sense of accomplishment right now. My one regret is that my mom is not here to see me graduate in May. Going to grad school was the plan right after I graduated from Tech, and I am just sad that she wasn't here to see that I finally got started and isn't here to see that I finally finished. Graduation day will be bittersweet, but I know that she is proud of me and that makes all of the late nights and stress worthwhile.