I’ve been thinking about an often overlooked aspect of the American Dream, the expectation and freedom to allow our children to dream. You can be whatever you want to be parents might say; Follow your dreams, or pursue your passions are also colloquialisms that are so commonly heard in America. When I was growing up I wanted to be a Meteorologist. I also knew that at some point I wanted to earn a Ph.D. It has been a life pursuit of sorts since middle school. Eventually I grew up, graduated high school, and attended Mississippi State University. Mississippi State’s Geoscience department is one of the best in country for studying meteorology. But then I was introduced to a slightly different field, geospatial science. I liked it and decided to do that and haven’t looked back. Fast-forwarding a couple years years and I am where I am today; living with my wife and dog in a new home with a yard that needs to be mowed. The truth of the matter is that I’ve moved so much and so regularly in the past 8 years that I’m finally comfortable and feel settled. How ironic then that the childhood dreams start tugging at me now…
This week I will have the privilege of touring one of the top departments of Geography at the University of Illinois. Next year, I hope to enroll in its doctoral program. There is a competitive scholarship program that my employer provides that will help offset the cost of the degree. This is a big change though and its a much harder decision than I thought it would be to make. I’ve been researching graduate programs for nearly two years. I narrowed it down to Illinois because I like its location (e.g. small town), the fact it has a growing tech sector, and relationship with a sister laboratory in the same agency that I work for. To attend the program will require a move 3 states away; 5 if measured by interstate crossings on I-55. My wife would have to give up her job too, putting her career on hold. Obviously, our cash-flow would go to crap at that point. Taking the scholarship money means I will have to work while doing school, potentially dragging out the program. I will then owe payback time, which is trivial since I enjoy the job so much. Change is still hard. But the dream is still present. It’s an un-tame mountain. The last I dreamed to climb. The one less traveled by.
32.3° N by 90.8° W