Thursday, July 26, 2012

A deferred dream realized

I hopped and squealed through the hallway at work this afternoon.
Why, you ask? I got word that I've been accepted into UT's Master of Public Policy and Administration program. I officially start this fall.

This is huge for several reasons.
First, I can start my journey toward earning a master's degree -- for free. (Yay, job perks.) It's something I've wanted to do for some time but didn't have the time or money while I was a reporter.

Second, I've always had an interest in international relations and foreign policy and I'll be able to concentrate in this subject area. (What happened to my initial interest in exercise science? Taking statistics in the spring was a wake-up call that I needed to go in a different direction. I passed the class but I didn't enjoy it -- a huge no-no for the nerdy me. I've never really liked math and science. But I thought time would have softened the hate. Nope.)

The third and biggest reason is this: In 2008, I applied for the Ambassadorial Peace Fellowship through Rotary International, one of the most respected organizations out there. Their mission is service in the community, in the workplace and around the globe. In short, they're all about doing good at home and abroad to better the lives of others.

The fellowship would have allowed me to study and earn a master's degree in peace and conflict resolution and international relations at a university somewhere outside the U.S. I chose a university in Queensland, Australia.

It was a rigorous six-month application process and then another few months of interviews. Although I was competing with applicants from around the world, I felt confident that I had a good shot at securing one of the 60 fellowship slots. I made it pretty far along in the application process.

I got word in November 2009 that I had not been accepted. It was one of the more painful disappointments I've ever faced, particularly because I seemed to fit and exceed every qualification Rotary was seeking. What made it tougher was the disappointment of the regional Rotary folks who had sponsored me. It was so cool how they were pulling for me. The rejection honestly didn't make any sense. In effect, I was dealing with the loss of a dream. And. it. hurt. bad.

That was one of those times I had to put legs to my faith and truly live it. Did I really believe God's promise of Jeremiah 29:11-13 that he had good plans for my life?

So, I grieved the loss of this fellowship and then moved on. I figured God wanted me to stay put in Knoxville.

Fast forward to today. When I got word that I had been accepted into UT's program, I was overjoyed. How neat that God has given me back the dream of studying peace and conflict resolution and international relations. You know, sometimes God doesn't give back something we've lost because he typically has something better. In this case, he gave me back that dream although I'm not sure why.

I texted my dear friend Andy to share the news and he responded: "What do you guess God is up to? Time will reveal it."


  1. Ahhhhhh!!! So excited for you friend! Congrats!

  2. I was waiting for you to make this news public. Oh, how proud I am of you and, also, a bit envious (in the best sense of the word). To be able to wake up each day and live the scholarly life yet again...ah, yes. This is part of a plan. Part of a plan, indeed. And you will do well. Of that I am certain.

  3. Congratulations!! This sounds like a great path for you!

  4. This is so great, Lola! What a journey of discernment! And way to hang tough in the process. I am very happy for you!

  5. Woo Hoo, Lola! That is so awesome - thanks for sharing this with us.

  6. On those rare chances when we see Romans 8:28 played out, I am thankful. In all things He truly does work for the good of those who love Him... Congrats sweet child. - Mama Lloyd

  7. We're so happy for you, Lola! We pray much success to you in this new endeavor.

  8. Hooray! I am so happy for you, my beloved friend! You are going to be so great in your classes and a real asset to the program. UT got lucky when you applied :).