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Four Years at the Mount

The Graduate

Summer musings

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

(6/2016) In the words of Olaf from Disneyís Frozen, "I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot." Typically, I am a total mermaid, beach babe, surfer dude, shoobie . . . whatever you want to call it. I love summer, the ocean, and not wearing shoes. Unfortunately, this summer I will not be having quite the time that Olaf or I imagined.

Just a few weeks ago, I walked across the stage in the PNC Sportscenter, Dean Simmons handed me my "degree," and I shook hands with President Einolf and posed for a picture with my empty degree/portfolio-thingy.

And yet, I think I have decided I donít want to be done. I love learning so much, and I know there are still whole bodies of knowledge that I can absorb. So, I have decided to pursue my Masters in Gerontology from the University of Southern California! Gerontology is the study of aging, typically from a biological, sociological, and psychological standpoint. I have a huge weakness for seniors, and since eventually we will all be old, itís not really going out of style. I digress. Since I am in graduate school, I will be staying on as The Graduate writer for the time being, to give you some insight into my first few months after the Mount. Hope thatís okay with all of you, because I still have plenty of weird musings that I would be thrilled to share over the next few months! As for this article, Iíll just focus on what I will be doing this summer, as far as my graduate studies go, working, and my thoughts on all of that.

My first graduate class, titled GERO 500, started just three days after I officially graduated from the Mount. I donít want to bore you too much, but I will say it is amazing what online classes are like. Itís not just a PowerPoint to read and a bunch of quizzes and tests that you open-book your way throughónot that I would want that. I have interactive lectures to watch and respond to, multiple assignments connecting my world to what weíre learning, and opportunities to interact and learn more about my classmates, who are from all over the country. So far, it has proved to hang with my in-class lecture experiences. We shall see how it goes!

I know I sound like such a pity party. Oh, poor me. Started grad school right after undergrad, no summer, no free time, blah, blah, blah. I know you donít feel bad for me either, and you shouldnít. While some of my friends went into the workforce and start desk jobs this summer, I got the privilege of retaining my old gig at my pool for one more year. Thatís rightóI still get to spend my days at the swim club. I coach our clubís team in the mornings from eight to noon, then I stick around until eight at night and keep the place running smoothly till dark. It is probably the greatest job in the world because I hang around in the sun all day. I just wonít get all the shore time that Olaf and I would like.

After the summer ends, I will get a "real job" where shirts and shoes are required. However, I know that you know that I wonít be behind a deskóthatís not me. I hope to get a job that will put together two of my greatest passions: creativity and seniors. Yes, you read those right. Working in activities at a nursing home is probably the best job that I could ever have, second only to (you guessed it) managing and coaching my summer club. I know that both of those sound ridiculous, silly, and kind of no skill needed jobs, but I would say you are wrong. We always place a personís occupational worth in the hands of their bank account, their schooling, or natural ability, but we are wrong. Why do we count a personís worth in dollars, and not in the countless lives they have improved?

I believe we all have a calling to help humanity. For some of us, it is through teaching the next generations. For others, it is being a police officer, firefighter, or something of the like. For others, it is making money in the business world to donate to third world countries, or keeping all that money for yourself and having a really rich family. Do you. My point is, we all have a calling to improve another personís life through our work. To me, ignoring that calling is just plain wrong. I know that studying aging might sound like a drag, working in a nursing home might sound depressing, and doing activities with people who canít do much is just boring. But honestly, teaching children is actually my worst nightmare. Crunching numbers is brain numbing, and while my family members might say I am a great arguer, being a lawyer just never appealed to me.

Much like normal, I have gotten far off topic. I guess my point is to say that even though I wonít spend hours on the beach with my "snow up against the burning sand," this might be my best summer ever. I get to be in the sun every day coaching the sport I love, learning more each week about the group I am most passionate about, and most importantly, for the first time in four years my summer will go until Labor Day.

Read other articles by Katie Powell