I’m very excited to share the news that I have made a decision about my next steps after the YAV program. As you may have heard me mention, I applied to two Presbyterian Seminaries, both for dual degree programs. Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia accepted me to their dual degree program in pursuit of a Masters in Divinity and a Masters in Christian Education. Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas also accepted me to their dual degree program in pursuit of a Masters in Divinity and a Masters in Social Work. After a lot of thought, prayers, and one or two melt-downs I’ve decided to attend Austin.
Every responsible bone in my body wants me to go to Richmond. First of all, they have guaranteed me full funding plus a small living stipend. Both of the master’s degrees would be from Union, so I have already been accepted to both. And one of the biggest factor for me is that all my closest friends and family live in or near Richmond right now, making it very hard to stay away. Union Seminary is neatly packaged and ready to go for four years of studying and living with my loved ones. But for some reason that is just not where my heart is telling me I should go.
Unlike Union, Austin has not given me any information about funding yet. Their process is different so I should be hearing back on merit-based and need-based funding in the next few weeks. Also unlike Union, at Austin I would be receiving two master’s degrees from two different schools. Austin Seminary partners with University of Texas at Austin for the masters in Social Work so I will have to apply, be admitted, and find funding separately for my second degree. And of course, Texas is half way across the country from my friends and family. I don’t know anyone in Austin, less one YAV that has told me she plans to attend the same program as me. Nothing about Austin is neat or put together. At this point all I have is an acceptance letter and a million questions. But when I ask myself really honestly where I want to be for the next four years, the answer simply is not Richmond, Virginia.
I hope for an adventurous life and in a lot of ways I feel like I am already failing. I never studied abroad, I chose a national placement for my YAV year, and I haven’t left the country in years. I want to be a traveler and I want to meet people with different life styles than me. Moving back to Virginia for grad school feels like a step back in a lot of ways. I love my friends so much and I miss them terribly while I’m away, but I know those relationships will stay strong no matter where I go. Oddly enough, even my mom seems to know that Richmond isn’t the right choice. When I told her about my options she told me I should think very hard about it but that I shouldn’t chose Richmond just because of my friends and family. I know that Austin is not the most responsible choice. If I don’t receive the funding I need then I have no way to pay for more school. I have accrued so much debt from undergrad I absolutely cannot take on more loans. If I don’t get accepted to UT Austin I will only be receiving one degree. There are plenty of opportunities to fail out in Texas, but it still feels like a risk I’m called to take. I believe there are opportunities in your life where you have the choice to have faith or fall back on what is promised. I’m choosing to have faith and pray that it all works out. I would love your good vibes and prayers to help me keep my faith in this decision.
Watch out Austin, here I come!