When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
I know struggle, pain, and heartache. I grew up seeing violence, families being torn apart, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and abject poverty. There was a duality. However, I grew up in the military so at various times there was a fleeting sense of security and well-being. Many times over I let all of those things erode my life and sense of well-being. To be honest, they still can and do at times. I’ve made a ton of mistakes. I dropped out of high-school, went from job to job to job, and almost let myself succumb to demographics and statistics that said my life was set in poverty and constant anguish.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been somewhat diplomatic, compassionate, caring, loved maps, world history, and issues of power. It’s no wonder I studied what I studied. When I returned to school at 27, it was to prove I am not a high school drop-out any longer. It took awhile, and I did suffer because I dropped out, but I accomplished that goal. I finished my undergraduate studies in geography with a GPA that isn’t the greatest but reflects the real struggles I’ve overcome. Towards the end, I started to realize that an undergraduate degree was not going to be enough. It wasn’t going to be enough for me, and it’s not enough for most of us any longer.
I felt the urge to go to graduate school for diplomacy at a military college because of my background. I know personal conflict, familial conflict, and come from a history of military service but did I did not serve. I thoroughly enjoy comparative politics, conflict studies, both economic and human development, and history. I struggled to get through graduate school. It was very hard, and I had to muster all of my intellect to pull it off. I persevered, though, I pulled a 3.78 GPA at the end of it all. While attending graduate studies, I was given high recognition for my research and writing on refugee norms and intra-state conflict, specifically conflict in the D.R. of Congo.
I am still trying to figure out how to make a career that can start in Michigan but will lead to international diplomacy. This ‘cosmopolitan’ thinker is struggling a bit acclimating to surroundings that don’t feel like home but is ready and willing to build a network and community. At the moment, I am volunteering in an after-school program tutoring under-resourced children. It is profoundly uplifting and exciting. I am also reaching out to conflict resolution centers in the hopes of gaining guidance on where to hit the ground running.