Humans of the U: Vanessa Shannon

“Getting a master’s degree has proven to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The most difficult part of grad school has been trying to find a balance between keeping up on schoolwork, two jobs and being a single mother. My life has been nothing short of very stressful for the past three years. I really hope my kids will forgive my shortcomings during this time.

By graduating, I hope that I am setting a good example for my kids; showing them that if you want something badly enough, and stick to it even when quitting would make life so much easier, the reward will be great. Graduating means I have accomplished something that was very important to me and reminds me that I can do hard things.

If you have the desire to go back to school for any reason—professional, personal or otherwise—do not let age stop you. Being an older student has actually been more rewarding in many ways because you are in school for different reasons than maybe you would have been at 18. It means more to you because you actually want to be there, so as a result, you learn more, and the best part is that it re-invigorates your brain. I am continually amazed at how going back to school has truly opened my eyes to the broader world. It is so easy to just stay in a box and remain comfortable, but higher education offers so much more than just a degree. If you’re on the fence, just jump off and do it. You won’t regret it.”

                                                   —Vanessa Shannon, Class of 2021, M.A. in English, Literature and Cultural Studies