While I first established this blog just one week ago, I’ve been too busy to really get everything up and running – I believe that it is now functional and will begin documenting my wonderful journey through a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Riverside. This blog will contain my personal feelings about my experiences while my companion web site, Jeff’s Growls, will emphasize the more formal aspects of my academic pursuits.
For now, I would like to provide a very brief outline of the past couple of weeks – events that will forever change my life and; indeed, are the beginning of what I will consider “my second life.” Ironically, I hit the magic age of “fifty” (can you imagine?) in July – my own mother had been eagerly anticipating this birthday for many, many years – just so she could buy me a membership in AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Well, she had her wish granted and purchased a membership for me on my birthday (gosh, isn’t that special?)!
While I’ve never been one to care much about how old I am (it really doesn’t bother me), I certainly never experienced a mid-life crisis (at least not one that I’m aware of), although my life has been quite miserable for a very long time (think YEARS). Fortunately, I tend to be very persistent – a trait some may not appreciate 🙂 – one of my long term dreams has been to eventually pursue a Ph.D. so that I may conduct research into matters that may serve to not only utilize the skills I’ve acquired over the years but will, hopefully, serve to benefit others. At the time I completed my Master’s Degree 20 (ahem) years ago, my statistics instructor pleaded with me to become a school administrator (I can’t imagine ANYTHING I would hate more than that) because he believed that my thoughts were exactly those that good administrators (an oxymoron) should have. Not only would I HATE being an administrator (what a waste) but I am interested in research (something that a Ph.D. focuses on). Interestingly, my Master’s Degree Advisor also counseled me to continue my education. Stupidly, I did not do so (had I had a crystal ball, I would have done so). Needless to say, I’ve been swept away by life for the past two decades and what I’ve learned and experienced have certainly clarified what I should do when (or if) I grow up. 🙂
Getting back to this welcome message, I received an e-mail notification that I had been accepted into UCR’s Ph.D. program in Education with an emphasis is Special Education on September 12, 2008 at approximately 4 PM (I immediately affirmed my acceptance) and subsequently learned that I had been invited to a GSOE (Graduate School of Education) meeting on Monday, September 15th. What made this answer to my prayers even more exciting is that, for the first time in years, many other wonderful things were also happening; some, but certainly not all of these included:
- September 11, 2008 – The United States Senate unanimously approved the American’s with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (previously entitled the “ADA Restoration Act of 2007”) which rightfully overturned numerous Supreme Court rulings that had essentially destroyed most of the protections afforded by the ADA since it’s original passage by Congress in 1990. My favorite quote from the Congressional Record from the Senate’s passage of the ADA Amendments Act (September 11, 2008, page S.8349, bottom right corner) was made by one of the bill’s original sponsors, Senator Tom Harkin:
“the Supreme Court decisions have led to a supreme absurdity, a Catch-22 situation that so many people with disabilities find themselves in today. For example, the more successful a person is at coping with a disability, the more likely it is the Court will find that they are no longer disabled and therefore no longer covered under the ADA. If they are not covered under ADA, then any request that they might make for a reasonable accommodation can be denied. If they do not get the reasonable accommodation, they cannot do their job; and they can get fired and they will not be covered by the ADA and they will not have any recourse” (emphasis added).
- September 12, 2008 – Around 4:00 P.M., I received an e-mail stating that I had been accepted into a Ph.D. Program at UCR. (Okay, I was so happy that I blubbered!) I immediately accepted and then received an e-mail inviting me to a Graduate School of Education orientation meeting on Monday (Sept. 15),
- September 17, 2008 – The United States House of Representatives unanimously approved the Senate’s slight change to the ADA Amendments Acts (the House had overwhelmingly approved the ADA Restoration Act and forwarded the original bill to the Senate in June 2008) and held a ceremony to send the bill onto the President for his signature (as of the date of this entry, Bush has not yet done so but the White House did issue a press release, on Sept. 17th, stating that he will sign it into law).
- September 18, 2008 – I enrolled in my first classes at UCR for the doctoral program. Ironically, this day was also the first National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day as per a formal resolution made by the United States Senate. On a more personal note, when I arrived home later that evening, I received an e-mail from a text book publisher asking if I would be willing to permit one of my photographs (I’m not a photographer, although my father was) that I had taken last year as part of one of my many hobbies, Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) of the Dana Point Harbor: that photograph may be found on my Flickr site.
- September 25, 2008 – The day started of with a bang – President George W. Bush signed the American’s with Disabilities Act Amendments Act into law (thereby helping millions of special needs Americans) and I attended my first classes at UCR (both of which I enjoyed immensely). Then, when I arrived home, I checked my e-mail only to learn that my photograph (mentioned above) had been accepted for publication!
Clearly, these are fabulous events, all of which I am personally very proud to have watched transpire. The future, for all Americans, including those with special needs, is now brighter and, for me – my own future hasn’t look this wonderful in many, many years.