So, today was the big day. Having returned to school about a year ago, I officially earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science today from the University of Missouri-Columbia. My parents, my four siblings and two of their spouses, plus several friends all observed the MU College of Arts and Science (the largest college in Missouri, apparently) commencement exercise or joined us for the reception at my place afterwards. We had a lovely and lively time together.
Thank you, for those of you who have strongly supported me in this endeavor. Honestly, there were times when I did not know whether I would make it back into school and finish. It’s been something of a saga, indeed. But, a few years older and wiser than my first time around, I not only came back to school with a new appreciation of the luxury it is to be a student, but managed to turn in a pretty respectable academic performance. I’m still waiting on a grade in one class but I’m looking at above a 3.5 GPA this semester (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the 3.7 I’m shooting for), something I could not often have said during my earlier undergraduate experience.
I’ve got more thoughts on my time at MU and about the university and the academy generally, but I think I’ll save those for the National Association of Scholars website, which I have been regrettably absent from since my debut post there a couple months back. I even have a few thoughts on commencement exercises!
So, what’s the next step? Well, for now and the next day or two, to catch up on some much needed sleep. To re-establish a more stringent writing schedule, and to finalize my professional plans for the near and medium term future. I’m strongly considering teaching English overseas, and have been looking at some programs (at this point that could be for the Fall, or some have rolling admissions in which I might be able to drop in a little sooner). I’ve got a couple other general directions I’m looking as well.
People have asked me if I’m going into politics. Or looking for something in politics, etc. The short answer is “No.” I love politics, and probably always will. But, right now I’m more interested in learning, traveling, writing, serving, teaching, and generally being removed from anything that resembles day-to-day political work. I think politics represents both the best and the worst of human nature and possibility. Politics can be about people but more often is about power. It can be public service or it can be something far less, and again, all too often is.
Frankly, much of the front line work that goes into politics, whether it’s campaigns or organizing, etc, is so chaotic and stressful that I can’t ever imagine seeking out anything like that in the future. Obviously if you work at a high enough level it can be great, and some people thrive on all that can be involved with political work. However, if I ever come back to politics full time, at least anytime soon, it would be to write about political affairs, or to work for an individual, organization or cause in which I had absolute confidence in the integrity and viability of the mission.
For now though, I’ll be content to put in “Anchorman” with Will Ferrell, crash, wake up for church and enjoy the next day or two in relative relaxation.