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Approaching the finish line

15 days. That is all that is left of my VISTA year (including weekends). Where has the time gone? In some ways it seems just like yesterday that I attended PSO (Pre-Service Orientation) in Lombard, Illinois before officially starting as a VISTA (volunteer in service to America). I have spent the last 11+ months volunteering/working as an Iowa Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA in the Office of Service-Learning and Campus Engagement at Coe College (long title, I know). It's hard to believe I have just a few weeks left.

So much has changed in the last 11 months--personally, professionally, academically, etc. I came into this position knowing that I had not fully completed my education. I think I have known from a young age that I would be going to grad school. I just didn't know what degree I would be pursuing. Philosophy? Religion? Student Affairs? Seminary? I think it is quite possible that I considered all of those and several others during my time here at Coe. Choosing what field to get a master's degree in was no small feat for me. I have diverse interests. I had a hard enough time picking a major as an undergrad. In fact, I couldn't pick just one. I picked two! :-)

Perhaps deep down I knew that I would go to seminary. It was one of those things I couldn't really ignore no matter how hard I tried. When I first started to seriously consider attending seminary, McCormick in Chicago wasn't very high on my list. As the hours of research continued and the more I learned about McCormick, the more I was drawn to it. An opportunity presented itself for me to visit the campus for their Inquiry into Ministry event back in February. Going to visit a school just a few days after a major blizzard is ridiculous. I DO NOT recommend it for anyone. In any case, I fell in love with school. I knew that it was the place for me. With less than a month until applications were do, I put my application together with as much care and precision as time would allow. Weeks later I got the joyous news that I had been accepted to McCormick. There was not a doubt in my mind that this was where I wanted to be.

So now here I am--just a few short weeks from completing my time as a VISTA and only a few short months from starting at McCormick. I am at that point where I am getting both excited and nervous to go to McCormick. I am excited for the school work side of life. The thing I am most nervous about is living in Chicago. I'm sure it will be great. I just have never lived somewhere that big. I suppose this follows the trend in my life to try bigger and better things. I am looking forward to seeing where life takes me as I begin this next chapter of my life.

I don't know that I can fully communicate all the things I have taken away from my time as a VISTA. I made some good friends. I learned valuable life lessons about handling difficult situations, people, and students. I gained a better understanding of the need to give back to the community. I narrowed down my area of interest for a career path. I came to know more about myself and the person I want to become. I think the most important thing I have gotten out of this whole experience is that you can accomplish great things (that you may not necessarily think you can do) if you just try. Don't question it--just DO. I did so many things during my time as a VISTA that I never thought I would do or do well. The best example of this is successfully co-presenting at the Iowa Campus Compact Mini-Conference and feeling great about the finished product. I never imagined that I would be told that people were inspired and were able to take something away from a presentation I gave. I HATE public speaking, but evidently, I'm not as bad at it as I originally thought I was. So lesson learned. Give yourself a chance to succeed before saying it is something you can't do. (Thanks for pushing me to do this, Mandi. I don't think I ever would have if it weren't for you!)

Thanks to all of you who have supported me and been with me on this journey! I wouldn't be who I am today without your participation in my life. I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. It has been a joy getting to know you and work with you.

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