By: Carlyn LaGrone, Class of 2018
As the first quarter of my graduate school career comes to close, I can’t help but reflect on the past 9 weeks that have passed. Before starting the Master of Science in Health Communication (MSHC) Program, I didn’t know what to expect. I felt a mixture of emotions — excited, anxious, and eager among other feelings. I knew I was excited to begin school again especially in a program that would both challenge me and expand my knowledge surrounding a topic I am very passionate about. I also felt anxious and nervous about my first day and becoming a student at such a prestigious institution while working a full-time job. Despite this, I felt certain that this program was the right next step in my journey.
Fast forward 9 weeks and I still feel very confident about my decision to pursue this degree as a Northwestern graduate student. My concerns about being “on” 6 days a week for a year have disappeared as I find myself fully immersed in the class material, guest lecturers, and class conversations. I find myself constantly bringing up topics I learned in class in casual conversation to my friends, family and even my coworkers. And class feels like less of chore and more of a time for open discussion with a group of others that feel equally as interested in improving the health care system as I am. Each student has such a unique walk of life and perspective on some of the things we discuss in class – and as much as I’m learning from my professors, I am also learning from my peers. Some of the other members of my cohort have become my friends beyond the classroom and our study dates have become commonplace in my weekly routines.
Balancing my full time job with the program is one of the hardest parts about being in the program. I work in the events world for Rush University Medical Center. There are days after work that my energy levels are low and the last thing I want to do is do my class readings or complete an assignment that is due. Studying has retaught me how to refine my time management and organizational skills which are also valuable in my job. I find myself working harder than I thought possible not because I have to, but because I want to. It’s not always easy but 9 weeks in and I know how much this will help progress both my professional and personal life.
Overall, I feel incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity in the MSHC program. I truly feel like a member of the Northwestern community within my cohort and as a grad student at the University. Though this journey is far from over, I am so excited to continue on over the next year. I used to joke with my friends about how having to sacrifice a full year of brunch and Saturday adventures in the city to complete this program would be hard, but truthfully it’s one of the best things I could have chosen to do for myself (and of course for my wallet too). This is just the first quarter of the beginning of my future.