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Leveraging Crossroads with Patience

Ann Tippett

By Ann Tippett, MALS student

“The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.” Plato

Dr. Weis and I are in the same business: respecting words. Both of us teach English at local institutions of higher learning: she obviously at Nazareth and I, at Monroe Community College. Since she asked me to write my MALS “success story,” I’ve been searching for the right words. I finally found inspiration in her last MALS Matters message where she asked her readers to contemplate these two words, “crossroads” and “leverage.” So, here in this short essay, I hope her evocative words combined with my essay give a good sense of my MALS journey.

Five years ago, I met Dr. Weis at a crossroads in my professional life. Even though I had just been awarded a prestigious teaching award, I no longer felt intellectually challenged in my discipline; I yearned for inspiration but I had no idea what I was even looking for. I felt trapped by complacency. Then Monica gave me a MALS brochure and I knew immediately that this interdisciplinary approach to learning was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my mind and career. I just needed to figure out a way to leverage the idea of pursuing another Masters degree.

Then it revealed itself. Our department was in the initial stages of preparing to offer a Humanities degree. I had volunteered to work with the Humanities committee in the hopes that I could eventually teach one of the courses. However, I had just learned that colleagues with strong backgrounds in interdisciplinary studies would be preferred over those without the background, like me. Here was my leverage; I reasoned that matriculating into the MALS program would give me the knowledge I needed and the credibility to participate actively in our new degree program. Dr. Weis and I worked out a four-year plan, where I would take courses over summers and a night a year; I would then apply for a sabbatical to complete my capstone project.

Well, as the Yiddish proverb says, we plan, God laughs. Four years later, I am only half way through the degree. For various reasons, many connected to budget cuts at my institution, I’ve had to slow down my journey. But the unanticipated benefit is that I have re-learned the important lesson of practicing patience; it may well be the most important lesson of my MALS journey. Without rushing through and exhausting myself to “finish,” I been able to appreciate and integrate what I have learned in way that may not have been possible otherwise.

The MALS program has opened my eyes, heart and mind to many new ideas and challenged me in ways I could have never imagined. So I’ve decided to try to relax and enjoy the journey. Oh, yes, as of this spring, I am now teaching and leading in our new Humanities degree program.


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