Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Break & School News

I haven't had a summer off in so long that I can't even remember.  It's been delicious!  While I had a tremendous "to do" list, including reading for my upcoming classes, I haven't done even half.  I'm okay with it.  I've spent time catching up with friends and family, staying up late and sleeping in (yes, sometimes to noon!), puttering around the house, and getting started on a fitness / wellness program.  

When I started my menopausal transition, I kept feeling like I needed time off to regroup, recollect, and to rethink the priorities in my life.  This summer break has provided me with that time and it feels "just right."  I feel nourished, rather than depleted and happy to be alive once again.  And, I do have some exciting school news ...

I was awarded the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative scholarship!  This is a FULL tuition award based on merit (GPA), potential for leadership, and financial need.  When I got the award letter, I literally sobbed tears of joy and gratitude.  I never thought for a moment that I would get the scholarship due to my age.  In fact, I almost didn't apply.  Here's how my process went:   

There are many (ahem) "mature" ladies in the MBA program and we had discussed the scholarship opportunity.  We all felt it was a long shot given our ages and several of my peers didn't apply.  But, that little voice inside wouldn't let me not apply.  Full tuition for the school year is no small deal at a private college.  So, about 9 days before the deadline, I started the application, which included a formal application, academic transcripts, a 3-5 page personal essay, and 3 letters of recommendation.  It was at the end of the semester when everyone was crazy with finals and presentations, so my timing was poor.  Yet, I managed and the three people who wrote letters for me were real troopers.  I did everything I could on my end to help them as they were all busy as can be.  "Help" means getting the form to them asap, including self-addressed stamped envelopes, providing bullet points on my accomplishments, driving to them (if needed) to get the signed letter, and nudging them along (nice emails saying "5 more days"; "2 more days" until the deadline, etc.).  

Another thing that helped me is that I had my academic transcripts on hand.  When I had applied to Mills, I ordered extra copies and thank goodness!  I highly encourage anyone in academia to keep spares on hand.  It's the one part of an application that you have little control over.   

On the day the application was due, my packet was finally in order and I drove to Mills to personally hand it in.  It felt good to do so, yet I didn't get attached at all to the outcome.  If nothing else, it was good practice to work under such pressure and to know that I could pull it off.  

I feel it speaks volumes about Mills College and Goldman Sachs (especially amid all the ethical issues they are currently facing) to provide such significant support to a woman my age.  I also think it speaks volumes about the changing perception of mid-life women in school and in the workplace.  Ladies, we REALLY are reshaping the whole concept of mid-life, aging, retirement, and the value of our skills and knowledge!  Please know that if I can do it, so can you!