My name is Elizabeth and I’m 28 years old. I’m a Southern gal, “in exile” as I like to say, living in Michigan. Like Kristen, I’m originally from North Carolina, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina State University in 1999. I moved to Michigan that same year to pursue a graduate degree in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan. I spent four years there. However, with my husband and family’s support, I chose to leave the program “ABD” (all but dissertation) when I became pregnant with my now 20-month old daughter, Charlotte. My husband currently works for the university as a computer programmer. We are very fortunate to be part of a wonderful church family here in Michigan, which makes our separation from our families bearable.
It was actually a very difficult decision for me to leave graduate school because I truly value education, and it was a huge step to “give up” on a PhD, though I know I’m not the first to do so. The last couple of years of grad school I had been unsure about whether to continue or not, because the lifestyle of the female professors I met in my field was not appealing to me- the work hours too many and the stress too great. While I enjoyed my classes, reading, teaching, and much of my research experience, I found that I did not enjoy “the nuts & bolts” of preparing papers for publication and endless grant writing that dominated my experience. However, I’m still thankful for what I learned both inside and outside the classroom and research lab in graduate school. I know that whether or not I eventually pursue another graduate degree in a different field in a future season of my life, I’ll continue to benefit from my grad school experiences. Above all, God really used that challenging time in my life to draw me close to Him.
I enjoy reading the perspectives on College Girl in part because I had become somewhat negative about my graduate school experiences. It’s helped me to gain a better perspective on it- I had found myself thinking positive thoughts about advanced education generally, but negative thoughts about my own experiences. I suppose I was “burned out” by grad school. It may seem strange to say this on a pro-schooling blog, but I believe not ALL schooling experiences are equally beneficial, especially if there is a poor match between the student and program. I went into grad school “on my own steam”, without really seeking counsel from others or even praying about it. I was extremely troubled by this at one point about three years into my program, and spoke to a wise lady who works with graduate students about it. She reminded me that God can redeem all things, and encouraged me not to wallow in guilt from making decisions without seeking His will, but to turn the situation over to His control. I am so thankful that I followed her wise counsel.
Unlike many of these lovely ladies, I did not really grow up in a Christian home. I was christened in the Methodist church, but did not attend as a child, and my mother, at least, was agnostic. She passed away when I was six years old, and my father remarried three years later. My stepmother did start taking us to church, and I came to know Christ when I was 10 years old, and was baptized at that time. I am continually amazed at the way God has worked through difficult circumstances in my life! I feel extremely blessed in my life. While I whole-heartedly support the pursuit of advanced education, and truly enjoyed my undergraduate college experience especially, I love where I am today. I spend most of my time caring for or playing with Charlotte, of course, along with writing, reading, decorating my home, digital scrapbooking, reading and posting on my parenting and scrapbooking message boards, gardening (way too many tomatoes this year!), and enjoying my husband’s good company.