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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