Ever since the idea of pursuing a doctorate came into my framework, I had always dreamed of attending UCLA.
After receiving both my undergraduate and Masters degree from private Christian Universities, I was longing for a different experience and wanted the challenge to attend the top public university in the country, especially in the area of education.
For close to a decade I researched, I attended info. sessions, studied for the GRE, and worked on multiple personal statement drafts. I concluded that I had wanted to pursue an EdD. as I see myself more as a scholar practitioner seeking to apply existing research and data into my day to day reality and better understand it’s strengths, weaknesses, and area of growth and improvement. After attending the PhD and EdD information sessions at UCLA in 2019, my inclination towards the EdD was confirmed by the opening questions they posed at the meeting for the PhD: “What do you want to be an expert in?” and for the EdD: “Why do you do what you do?”
For a while I kept this desire to myself, because it still felt out of reach and to be honest it felt vulnerable to share a deep dream and desire with others, when you yourself were unaware of what the outcome will be. Then when I transitioned into my Director role, it gave me the extra mental encouragement I needed to see myself attending one of the top public university in the country. The program I was looking at was the EdD in Higher Ed Leadership and Change and it had a low acceptance rate.
But with the encouragement of my community, family, friends, and colleagues I went for it. I applied for the EdD program at UCLA January of 2021. And in April of 2021 I also received my rejection e-mail from the program.
Now, I’ve experienced rejection before in my life, in the personal, professional, and academic, however this was painful. I didn’t tell many people about it, because I was embarrassed, I was disappointed in myself, I was angry, I was confused, I was hurt. It always feels vulnerable to share our dreams, desires, and wants out loud, especially when you don’t give yourself that buffer of “it can go both ways” sort of mentality but instead wholeheartedly believe this is where you are supposed to be and the path your are suppose to take. So it not only hits you hard, but it can feel so disorienting, so unraveling to get a rejection that you did fully prepare for or protect yourself from.
Christmas of 2020, my amazing family rallied together to purchase me my own pair of AirPods Pro after I had shared with them that it would be such a great tool to have if I was accepted into the doctoral program because it would help with live dictation and a doctor friend of mine who also taught in university setting, sold me on the fact that they were a great investment.
I was both so humbled by my family’s act of not only sacrifice, but belief and solidarity in and with me regarding being accepted into the doctoral program. They have always believed in me and sacrificed so much so that I could pursue my dreams. Therefore I resolved within myself not to open their gift of Apple AirpPods Pro until I got accepted into the program, wholehearted believing I would.
It is now March 2022.
The Apple AirPods Pro are still wrapped in it’s manufacturing plastic unopened by me.
I’ve been unable to open them.
Not out of a desire to punish myself for not being accepted into the program, but because it has taken me this long to truly grieve, feel, and accept this experience of rejection.
I know I can apply again.
I know there are other schools I can pursue.
I know that this one decision from one school didn’t mean my dream was unattainable.
But, I knew I needed to give myself permission to attend to my sadness and not look for the silver lining, because I wanted to honor my experience of putting it all out there and not running away and masking my pain, but letting it be a part of my story, and attending to the story it was helping create.
Almost a year later.
It might just be time to unwrap the plastic and open my box of Apple AirPods Pro, and to dream again.