top of page
  • Writer's pictureRosie J.

I've leveled up! Third time's a charm...

[Not my typical blog post about writing, etc. Instead, a peak into my life and why it took me over a decade to finally get my master's degree...]

Does this diploma make my brain look big?

Seriously, though, I didn't know how big this diploma holder for my master's degree was going to be. I say diploma holder, because of course they can't just hand out your diploma on commencement day. They have to make sure you don't owe them any money or anything before they'll mail it to you. I'll get my actual diploma sometime in the next couple of months. Gives me time to find a frame!

2022 has been all about achieving goals. While I've been more successful with some goals than others, this is one that I've been working on for quite some time.

By now, most people know that I've been in graduate school. A lot of people also know that I graduated last week. What many people don't know is that this is my THIRD attempt at a master's degree.

I'm no stranger to failing.

Third time's a charm? It applies in this case at least.

I lived in South Carolina for just shy of a decade. What brought me to SC originally was grad school. In my first undergrad degree, I majored in Music and Spanish. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with either of those degrees, but I didn't feel like I could handle teaching at the time, so I didn't get the education degree the first time around. Initially, I wanted to take a year off and figure it out, but my senior year of college was 2008-2009, and we were in the Great Recession. Taking a year off wasn't safe. Staying in school was safer. I applied to graduate school for Spanish, because it felt like the best bet, and accepted a teaching assistantship at USC-Columbia.

I was excited, but I wasn't prepared. I got into graduate school and realized my Spanish was severely lacking for what was needed. Because I'd double majored in undergrad, I'd only been able to spend 6-weeks abroad one summer instead of taking an entire semester or year abroad. Professors were not helpful. One told me my Spanish was impossible and chaotic (but somehow I made a B in her class). Other professors were just downright rude when I didn't know a word or something they thought I should know. And for whatever reason, I wasn't offered the classes that some of my counterparts were to brush up on my Spanish. I guess I was too advanced for those classes, but not advanced enough to thrive.

It was a hellscape. My mental health took a huge dive. I've honestly blocked out a lot of the memories from that August to December. I considered trying to switch over to a master's in music or even an MFA instead, but I finally realized I was too burnt out to continue. So I took a semester off and never went back.

Fast forward to 2016. when I completed my undergraduate add-on degree to turn my Music degree into a Music Education degree. I got my own classroom and started researching graduate programs in music that could be completed online with summer residencies. I applied and got accepted to Colorado State University's program. I was STOKED and supposed to start in the summer of 2017. I booked my AirBnB for the month and everything!

But a hasty decision to move out of a much cheaper but hazardous rental that the landlord wasn't doing anything about (think rivers of water coming through the roof from a hurricane months prior that was never fixed) into a bigger, nicer, newer, SAFER rent-to-own situation, put me in a position where it wasn't going to be feasible for me to go that summer. I deferred my entry to the next summer. Never thinking that between the summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018 I would find out that I had irreparable scarring on my vocal cords that would leave me needing to find something to do for the rest of my life besides teach music and that my decade-long relationship would implode, and I would be left trying to figure out what to do with my life as well as my career.

2017-2018 may be another year that I block from my memories, honestly. I went from a career and being close to buying a house with a stable relationship to having to pick up and move back home to Tennessee into a family house while I tried to piece my life back together again.

Thus, graduate school attempt numero dos failed.

I was really off-kilter in 2018 and much of 2019. I managed to find a teaching job right before the 2018 school year started. I literally had a couple of days to prepare my classroom and get ready to teach. Then, it was a bad environment at the school. The principal and I didn't see eye-to-eye on how a music program should be run. It gives me some solace that they've not kept a music teacher there for more than a year since I left. I wasn't valued as a teacher. I knew I needed to get out because of my voice. And, I had a bully for an arts team lead who shot my heart rate through the roof on a daily basis. Not to mention I had an hour commute (one-way) to this school. It was awful. I went back to school for an Information Systems undergrad degree that January to try to get out of teaching and into tech.

I didn't write. I didn't read. I didn't do music outside of work. I stopped playing video games when I went back to school. The thing that had been my only real solace since I had moved back to Tennessee. On top of struggles with my professional life, I piled on personal struggles as well, making some bad choices in partners. I felt mostly like I was on a destructive downward spiral that year. I didn't go back to teaching after that school year. I did substitute and take a music interim position, but I also went back to waiting tables, prior to Covid. I had no clue, at nearly 35, where my life was heading.

So how did I end up at grad school attempt number three?

When I was finishing my Information Systems degree in Spring 2021, I didn't know what career path to explore. My advisor, an Instructional Designer herself, recommended looking into a master's in Instructional Design. I liked the sound of it. I didn't know what else to do. I'd always wanted to get a graduate degree (see the two previous attempts), so I went for it. I finished my InfoSys degree in May 2021 and a week and a half later started my graduate classes. I was originally set on the fast track to graduate in May 2022, but one semester in, I realized I didn't want to mess up this degree like I messed up the first two, so I took a step back and delayed my graduation to December 2022 by taking one class at a time instead of two.

It paid off, because I graduated. And if this graduate program did honors, I graduated summa cum laude.

I finally did what I set out to do in August 2009. I got a Master's degree.

And I am proud of myself!

The point of all this is, it's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but there were barriers. I straight up failed the first time. Life and my health failed me the second time. But here I am, at the end of 2022, FINALLY in possession of a graduate degree.

I am relieved to be done. I've been back in school since January 2019. Almost four solid years of having homework while working full-time and trying to have a life. I set out at the beginning of 2022 with a lot of goals. Some of them I've been able to accomplish. Others have fallen to the wayside because of school.

But I'll do another post at the beginning of the year talking about those goals that I set for 2022 and what my goals for 2023 will be.

I'm going into the end of the year feeling pretty optimistic about my goals for next year, given what I've managed to make happen this year.

For now,


Recent Posts

See All


Good morning, all! I haven’t written a personal blog in a while. Honestly, I haven’t been writing much the last year at all. Casually or...

A Decade Ends…

I decided to save this Tweet thread here on my blog that I posted on January 1st, 2018, discussing the end of an eleven-year relationship...


bottom of page