About four and a half years ago, I decided to apply to graduate school. Though I had sworn I was done with school when I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2006, the idea of a master’s degree began to seem reasonable. With Purdue’s staff discount and my department’s forgivable loan scholarship, I could pay roughly a quarter of the “retail” price. In January of 2011, I began my coursework.
Since then, my wife and I have welcomed two children into the world. I have changed jobs twice, the second time leaving the university for a much more stressful and time-consuming role at a small company. For four years, I tried to balance my family, my academics, my employment, open source contributions, and (on rare occasion) my own mental and physical health.
It is the hardest thing I have done in my life, and although there is evidence to suggest that I performed well, I never felt like the balance was right. At least one area always got less than it deserved. Sadly, myself and my family were most often on the short end.
Nonetheless, my family remained unwaveringly supportive, even when I was basically non-existent for weeks at a time. My colleagues never complained (to me, at least) about my absences during odd hours of the work day. My professors praised my work, particularly the thesis which I defended in November (more on that in a later post). My Fedora contributions became effectively non-existent, but nobody seems to begrudge me for that, and I look forward to being able to contribute again.
I did not, and could not have, accomplished this on my own. I took great pleasure in having my family in attendance yesterday as I participated in a long-awaited commencement ceremony. For everyone else who provided support and encouragement along the way, no matter to what degree, I offer my most sincere thanks. We did it!