Head Over Heels

November 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

[tldr version is at the end of this blogpost]

(I listened to this song today, hence the title of my blogpost. I think it’s appropriate here, honestly.)

 ~

Okay. So several months ago I wrote a rather depressing post about how life as a college graduate sucked. To recap, I complained wrote about how I couldn’t find a job, how no one seems to be hiring recent sustainability grads, and how anxious I was to be out in the real world. I wrote about how hard it was to stay positive.

Well, that was towards the end of June. I couldn’t sit around and dwell on those thoughts, so I distracted myself instead. I filled my days, and so these past six months have been a whirlwind: a happy, exciting, sometimes stressful, always crazy whirlwind.

Since my last post I:

  • volunteered like crazy at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary
  • went back to Hallmark to work part-time
  • applied for jobs
  • got published
  • signed a lease with my boyfriend at an apartment in Ahwatukee
  • applied for jobs
  • moved all my stuff over to said apartment in Ahwatukee
  • went to several interviews
  • got 6 job rejections so that I lived at my mom’s house in Glendale all summer (P.S. the 40 minute drive to see my boyfriend every few days was no bueno)
  • worked for my dad as a social media manager for his website
  • applied for jobs
  • went to a good friend’s wedding
  • wrote curriculum for and helped to launch the nonprofit SmartRoots Global
  • tested several lessons at Homeward Bound
  • applied for jobs
  • turned 23
  • FINALLY got a job as ranch manager at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary
  • FINALLY moved to Ahwatukee with my boyfriend

I also applied for jobs over the last few months.

Let me tell you, reader: if there is a more soul crushing, devastatingly painful thing to do in life other than try to be something you’re not in order to get people to like you and hire you so that you can spend your days in a cubicle doing work you don’t care about, I don’t know what is. But that’s what I did.

Well, the long story short of that brainwave is that I did get a full time job after waiting for so long, the perfect job that I think was meant for me all along.

But that’s a post for another day.

This post is to make an announcement to my friends and family, friends and family I’ve neglected lately since I’ve been so busy with three jobs (two part-time and one full time). Perhaps this is an apology of sorts to you guys as well, because as you’re about to read, my life is about to get even crazier.

I guess all I have to say about this decision that I made is that, surprisingly, not a whole lot of thinking went into it. I mean, I thought about it a lot. But my reasoning behind doing what I’ve done is not complicated at all.

On September 26th, two days after my 23rd birthday, something in my brain snapped. Snapped, I tell you. Since this was before I became ranch manager at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, on that day I was scouting out jobs on my good friend Google.com and was typing in just about every variation of the phrase that would capture my interests:

“sustainability jobs in….”

“sustainability education jobs in…”

“education jobs in…”

“environmental jobs in…”

“environmental education jobs in…”

Jobs in Arizona. Jobs in Washington, D.C. Jobs in California. Washington state. Oregon. Massachusetts. New York. I even looked in London, if only because I’m dying to go back. I looked for jobs everywhere and I qualified for nothing. The few jobs for which I did qualify, I sent out applications and received brisk email responses informing me that I “lacked experience”.

On September 26th I sat staring at my computer screen and thought…. Is this what I’m destined to see for the rest of my life? Email after email telling me I’m not good enough?

Once that thought entered my head, I started asking myself a lot of other questions. Why is my $20,000 bachelor’s degree useless? Why does no one want to give me a chance? Is this even the field I want to be in? What do I want to do in life? What do I want to DO?

Make your announcement already, Alexis, you say. I’m getting there. I think you see where I’m going.

Anyway, I spent all summer asking myself what I really wanted to do, and another post for another day is how the horses at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary guided me towards the answer to that particular question. There’s no lying with them, no barriers to hide behind and no denying what is truth. And as I spent this summer with them – and in fact, as I currently spend every single day with them – they led me to my conclusion that prompted my decision:

Later in my life (I’m having fun working with horses and helping to built up a nonprofit right now), I want to help fix the education system in this country. After writing curriculum for SmartRoots Global, I realized I want to continue doing so, but I want to add sustainability initiatives at the K-12 level. I want to study education policy and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I want to help teachers teach. I want to give kids a chance.

I want to go back to school. I want to keep learning. I want to give myself a better chance in the battlefield that is establishing a career in my early 20s.

Oh, I sure as hell won’t make a career for myself the way everyone wants me to, by starting small and quietly making my way up the ladder that is the unwritten hierarchy of business.

No, I want to make my own path. And starting in the spring of 2015, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

[Tldr version starts here]

And so, I am very excited to announce that I will be starting my master’s degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Instructional Leadership at Northern Arizona University (Online) in January!

I told my boyfriend the minute I found out I was accepted. I said, “I am officially going to be a grad student!”

He said, “You are officially insane.”

Yes, yes I am.

But as I said before, I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. And that, my friends, is half the fun.

Going For It

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have been thinking about the future a lot lately. When I say future, I’m not talking about it in general terms as a sustainability major should. Instead, I’m rather selfishly thinking of my own future and what it holds for me. More specifically, I’m thinking about grad school and the rest of my undergraduate semesters. I’m thinking about careers, jobs I would love, work that I would love to get up in the morning for. It’s quite a lot to focus on at 21 years old, isn’t it? (Though at my age, my mom had just married my dad and was pregnant with me – a bit more thought consuming than a career, but I digress.)

But a few weeks ago, something a little more immediate and relevant came up in one of my classes, and it reminded me of a dream I’ve had for a long time.

It started with brochures. Lots of brochures.

“The School of Sustainability study abroad department is looking for more students to join these programs,” my professor told us all at the beginning of our lecture. She was passing around the handouts as she spoke. “They have lots of funding available for financial assistance they literally need to get rid of, so I encourage all of you to apply.”

I looked at my brochure. There were four summer programs available: Sustainability, Tourism, and Culture in Dubai, Energy, Sustainability, and Development in Spain and Morocco, Diversity and Sustainability in Ecuador, and Comparing Sustainability across Cultures and Governments in Washington D.C. and London.

I actually felt my heart leap upwards. Such intense longing I’ve only felt once before: when I was sixteen and staring at a letter that invited me to attend a National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. for ten days during that summer. I was able to go to D.C. five years ago and I left a piece of my heart there. I did not want to leave. If I hadn’t had a plane ticket back home I’d probably still be there.

But London, too? To be able to go to my favorite place in the world and visit a place I’ve always dreamed of going to all over the course of a few weeks? And study something that blended perfectly with my track area (Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems) and my minor (Political Science) at the same time? It was almost too good to be true. It was as though the academic gods got together, looked at my ASU profile, and said, “Okay, guys, what kind of program can we put together that Alexis Roeckner would be the most qualified for and go absolutely freaking nuts over?”

Me in front of National Archives in 2008

Me in front of National Archives in 2008

I emailed one of the program managers and asked for more details about applying for the apparently available financial aid. She emailed me back and told me she checked my eligibility and that if I wanted to participate in the program, it was done. She also recommended I meet with the faculty director of the program, and so I happily scheduled a meeting with him for a few days later. We talked for half an hour, during which my longing to participate in the program skyrocketed. When I said, jokingly, that I was slightly disappointed that a trip to London would not include a day trip in Paris, he laughed and said, “It’s one of things where it’s like… you’re down there already, you might as well go. I have a feeling we’ll be headed down there for a bit while we’re in the U.K.”

Cue leaping, bounding heart that strained to get out of my body and leap and jump and dance and go absolutely, completely insane.

I have lots of dreams, but one of my biggest ones is to visit the Louvre in Paris. Even the idea of me finally being able to visit that museum makes tears come to my eyes. Washington D.C. plus London plus Paris too?

And so I spent the remainder of our meeting trying not to look like a completely desperate, emotional, and crazy undergrad student and instead asked questions about the details of the program and the planning that had gone into it. Then I made sure the information I had about applying for financial aid was correct, the faculty director wished me luck, and I went on my merry way.

I would be financing the entire trip myself, so task number one is to apply for the financial aid they’re giving away to qualified students. I know I’m already eligible for the program. What remains to be seen is if I’m eligible for the financial aid. If I am, I can afford to go, granted I save enough for my airfare and food for two weeks. The program takes place at the end of June, so I would have enough time to work and save money.

I think life is too short to not take this chance. When am I ever going to be able to do something like this again? Who knows where I’ll be after I graduate? Who knows what opportunities I might have, what I might be doing? I think it’s time to go for it. Time to cast aside all worry and doubt. Time to take chances and risks.

I want this. I want this more than anything.

And so, from now until summertime, I am going to do everything in my power to try to make this happen.

Applying for financial aid consists of writing two essays, one detailing why we are interested in our program of choice and how it will help us to achieve our academic and professional goals, and the other specifying personal information about our circumstances the committee should consider. Below is the end of my first essay:

I have been entertaining the idea of going to graduate school in Washington D.C. once I have received my diploma from the School of Sustainability. The nation’s capital is home to American University and its School of International Service, and I am interested in AU’s master’s program in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. I believe that participating in this particular study abroad program will solidify my decision to do this. But who knows? Maybe this study abroad program will open up another idea or an opportunity of some sort. I take all the risks and chances in the world to find what it is I was meant to do, and I believe this program just might be one of those callings.

I sincerely hope this is true. I hope that this is my calling and that I get to heed it.

Where Am I?

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