one semester down, three to go

Today, we presented our economic development strategies in Dr. Hoyman’s class. I really enjoyed taking her Community Economic Development class. She brought guest speakers in each week and made sure we read at least two perspectives on every issue we covered from business incubators to incentives to social capital.

This was our last class, and Dr. H invited us for lunch at her home. She showed us a black and white picture of her and her mom flanking Shirley Chisholm. Activism runs in Hoyman’s family it seems. I admire her. She must be in her late 50s if not early 60s. She has a bucketful of labor relations stories to tell and is still passionate about her work and so energetic, but not at the expense of being warm and open. She gave me some good advice about pursuing the Master in City and Regional Planning.

“I wouldn’t do it.”

I was glad to hear that. This morning I talked with the admissions advisor in the Division of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). I wanted to hear her advice on completing just an MPA and maxing out economic development electives in the DCRP vs. completing the dual degree program in three years. I did the math and figured the dual degree would work time and cost-wise, if I could complete it in 2.5 years.

Vivian, the advisor, said she’d never heard of a dual degree student completing both programs in 2.5 years. Just because no one else has done it doesn’t mean I couldn’t accomplish this, I thought. Then Viv extolled the benefits of the dual degree, how it gives students another edge in the job market. I guess I started to tune out then. I’m skeptical of advice from academics, and I question whether a second masters degree > work experience.

Dr. Hoyman said planners are a different bunch, and for me, wanting to work in economic development (ED), she wouldn’t recommend it. She mentioned a friend of hers who works in ED and has an MCRP and rarely uses it. She said it’s a very technical, detail-oriented, mathematical field, and if you want to work in development, just max our your ED electives.

Good. I am feeling antsy to get back to work, although I am enjoying the cohort experience in grad school.

I am a little nervous about our Bureaucrats’ Ball this Friday night. It’s a formal social at a restaurant in town, and I expect most people will be partnered up. I thought about passing and not going, but that would be the chickensh!t route. Better to experience everything.

This is the final week of school. Tomorrow is our last day of class, and next week we turn in our papers and sit for the law exam. I still haven’t figured out how to organize my printouts, and the semester is ending.

Lots of emotions swirling around this week. My paper for Dr. Hoyman, I felt could have been better. My classmates seem to have a more comprehensive grasp on the material it seems to me. I worked hard on our analytical memo for law class and still came out with an average grade. I’ve wasted time on that old self-doubt of whether I’m smart enough.

Sunday morning, I ran with a group of Raleigh runners and sat next to a fellow in his early 70s. God willing, I’ll be his age too. Next year, I turn 40, and I’ve been thinking about the next 40 years of my life. It feels like such a short time.

I’m going to die, and I want to have done something good with my life.

Brenda came over Saturday night and put aging in perspective. Her niece died two years ago at 15, and her cousin died at 35 a few years back. Brenda said every year is a gift. She’s right. If not for getting older, I wouldn’t be able to say Brenda’s been my friend for 23 years.

The end of a semester, a decade, and two relationships, bring on self-reflection I imagine.

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