So now we talk about part two. (And if you are reading this part first… don’t. CLICK HERE to read the first part of this blog post.)
As you recall from the last few paragraphs of the part one, I discovered that a brand new Masters of Emerging Media program was added to UGA’s graduate degree offerings, I had already been accepted into two other Masters programs (one at UWV and one at UF), and I was planning to take the GRE.
When I discovered the new Emerging Media program, as you can imagine, my heart was very happy (or as the hipsters say, “v happy”). My dreams of becoming an actual Dawg (and dreams of not having to drop $40K on a graduate program) were about to come true. I immediately picked up the phone and called the contact person for the program and asked if I could come in and learn more.
The next day, I drove to campus to meet with the Assistant Dean who had spearheaded the inception of the program. After asking 1,001 questions about the programs and trying to figure out how I could work full time and take the maximum amount of classes provided by TAP, I was ready to take the GRE and apply.
I knew I needed a 295 to get accepted into the program, but, I also knew that my portfolio and application as a whole was more than likely much stronger than other candidates as the program is fairly new and most of the students applying were fresh out of undergrad and probably didn’t have the work experience that I did. And if you know me, I’m pretty confident most of the time. So, I didn’t think I would have a problem getting in.
So a few days and three or four hours later after beginning to take the GRE, I was done. My score became available and I see that I made a 292. My heart sank. I’ve always been a poor test taker and was really terrible at math, which half of the test consisted of. Luckily, my writing portion was above average and what was required for acceptance into the program. Taking all of that into account and my application package, I still thought I would be fine. So, I applied.
I immediately reached out to the Assistant Dean to let him know my test scores were a little lower than the requirement, but I had applied anyways. I asked if there were exceptions made for entrance into the program and what I could do to ensure that I get in. He said that exceptions were made somethings, but I should take the test again. Of course, as anyone who had just taken a three or four hour test that cost $300 a pop, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear. And, by this time, it was already April. The pre-requisite required for the program begins in June.
But, like any desperate Dawg fan would do, I sucked it up, studied another couple of weeks, signed over my second born child and scheduled to take my test again. GRE day came and I took the test. This time, I made lower than I did the first time, which was extremely annoying. I knew that I was going to have to take the test again and fork out another $300 and my sister’s first born.
Before I could even schedule to re-take the test though, I get a rejection letter in the mail from UGA. Talk about a heartbreaking moment. I sulked for a few days, but then became extremely determined. I did NOT want to be a Gator. I studied every evening and even made flashcards to carry around at work. Any chance I got, I was studying for this stupid test.
Can we also take a second to rant about how stupid it is that a person’s ability to be successful in a graduate program is graded by a standardized test that is taken on a computer without a calculator (because that happens in real life… not) and words such as Amalgamate and Gregarious define our quality of a student? I’m sorry but if I’m having a conversation with someone, I’m just going to say “combine” and “outgoing.” People who use words like amalgamate and gregarious in their everyday conversations aren’t going to be successful social media marketers. It’s just a fact. So, why should those words and knowing a degree of a triangle prevent me from enrolling in a Masters program whose classes I could sleep through and still make an A? That’s just silly. Ok, rant over.
I took the test a third time… and this time made a 293. Yep… a 293. Still two points shy of that required 295. I was extremely frustrated. It was already June and the pre-requisite class had began. But, I didn’t give up.
I ended up writing a letter on a Friday afternoon to the Dean of the college essentially pleading my case for an exception for acceptance. I told him that I was a third generation Bulldog, had experience in many of the areas the program focused on and was positive that my experience would help me excel regardless of my slightly lower GRE scores. I also told him that I would be a resource for my peers in the program as I could provide “real world” insight if needed, and as an already Bulldog faithful, by being an ALUMNI of that university, I would always give back when asked. I included my resume booklet (which you can find here) and my college transcripts and clicked, “SEND!”
Lo and behold, on Monday morning, I get a reply from the Dean. He basically said, “Hey Ashley, thanks for your email. You’re right, you look like an excellent candidate for the program. Unfortunately, I don’t make decisions regarding program acceptance. That is up to [insert Associate Dean’s name here]. However, you should be hearing from him later today…” then about 30 minutes later, I get an official electronic email that states that I’ve been accepted into the program and here’s all the stuff I need to do to enroll. At first, I thought it was a mistake. I actually emailed the Administrative Assistant at the college and asked if she could double check her records because I think I received an email by mistake. I then call my Mom and and like, “So, I literally may or may not have just gotten accepted into UGA’s graduate program.” She was confused. I was confused. We were both being hopeful, but didn’t want to be too hopeful. It was a very emotional day.
Long story short, I do in fact get accepted into the program (I got an official paper acceptance letter and all), test out of the pre-requisite course, took three class every semester for four semesters all while working full time, and graduated from the University of freakin’ Georgia with the INAUGURAL cohort. Yep, that’s right… with the exception of two students who graduated in the Summer and three students who delayed their graduation, I graduated with the majority of the students whom I entered the program with. For me, that was quite an accomplishment. Oh, and by the way… never heard from the Associate Dean that day. I’m sure no one is shocked though.
As I’m sitting on the first row on December 15, 2018 at Stegman Coliseum at the Fall Graduate Commencement Ceremony, the President of the Alumni Association (at least I think that’s who she was) tells all of the graduates that we will all take home a coin that’s engraved with the UGA shield and Class of 2017. She went on to talk about how we should carry that coin with us and commit to the Alumni Association and always try and help our fellow Bulldogs out throughout our professional careers when we can (or something to that extent).
So as I’m sitting there with this coin in my hand, examining it, I start thinking about how difficult it was for me to get into grad school and how everything I promised the Dean I would do (be a resource to my peers, work hard, be dedicated to the program, give back to the college, etc.), I did. As I’m sitting there with all of these thoughts and just trying to keep it together, I tell myself that this coin is not going to symbolize my commitment to the University of Georgia, but rather, my commitment to myself to never give up.
I carry this coin in my pocket every single day, y’all.
This coin, along with both my rejection and acceptance letters from UGA (which are framed and hung in my office btw), remind me to “persevere,” believe in myself, and to never give up. I guess Elizabeth Warren says it best:
“Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Let this be a lesson to you all… believe in YOURSELF. Never give up. Have faith because whatever is meant to be… will be. I was always meant to be a bulldog… and now I am.
And so now that you know my story, you realize why that video, “Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg,” means so much. I was born a Dawg, then became a Dawg, and now will always be a Dawg. #AlwaysADawg #EM4Lyfe