12 Years in the Making

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Guest Writer: Marc Vance on the journey to Grad School.

When I started college right after high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I spun my tires at TCC jumping from psychology to sociology to political science. I ended up wasting nearly four years at a community college. I dropped out and said forget it, college isn't for me. At the time I was already working for Starbucks and seemed content on doing that for the foreseeable future. About three years ago, the bug hit me again, I was ready to go back to school. I reapplied to TCC and wanted to focus on what I truly loved, United States History. After following through with the reapplication process, I was denied due to financial aid issues along with poor grades. Honestly, I was crushed.

A few days following this disappointment, I was woken up by my manager at an ungodly hour. Reluctantly answering the phone she was screaming in my ear about the new College Achievement Plan from Starbucks and its partnership with Arizona State University. I would be going to college for free thanks to my company. Fast forward another three years, and I'm walking on the big stage at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, graduating Sigma Cum Laude. I was already exploring my options with Graduate School, visiting the local university near Fort Scott, as well as Colorado State University in Fort Collins. I never honestly considered Arizona State before our trip to Tempe, that was until we saw how beautiful the city and campus was. But it would be a passing conversation I had with a man I looked up to, Dr. Paul LePore, the Associate Dean of my college. He was someone I had spent two summers with in Finland when I did my two study abroad trips. We were passing each other in the hallway at the arena when he asked me how my search was going for graduate school. I told him it was going, but we really weren't sold on anywhere yet. Thats where he said the thing the stuck to me, it was my sign; "Why not come to Arizona State, I'd be glad to help you out." I remember after him saying that, I sat back down during the ceremony. There was noise all around the arena, but I didn't hear any of it, I was focused on what Dr. LePore said to me. It hit me, we were meant to be in Tempe, this would be my next destination.

I spent the next few months preparing, gathering letters of recommendations from professors, sorting through all of my research papers to find the best, constantly email the school to the point they began calling me by a first name basis. I remember the day I sent in my application, and the sense of excitement, worry and relief coming over me. The next few weeks were absolute torture. I woke up every morning hoping to get the email, checking the online admissions every hour, even researching on the internet who was already getting their acceptance letters. I was a nervous wreck. I began doubting myself, thinking it would never happen. Did I have good enough grades? Was my research enough? Do they hate beards? (Yes, it got to that point of my worrying). Then, yesterday afternoon I noticed that something had changed on my admissions status, I couldn't edit any of my recommenders, and it said there was a change in my status. I waited anxiously to hear the result, and prepared for the worst. When it became too late at night, I gave up hope of hearing anything that day, but I gave it one last look. There it was, "Congratulations! You have been admitted into the following program: History (MA), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU at Tempe." I was elated, screaming and jumping in the air like a six year old getting his first Nintendo at his birthday party.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." -Theodore Roosevelt

This was something I told my parents I was going to do twelve years ago when I started college. I told them I was going to get my Masters and PhD in something. Now, I'm finally on my way. The next few years are going to be an absolute rollercoaster. It's going to be full of ups-and-downs, but having such an amazingly strong partner by my side gives me the confidence that I need. Thank you to everyone who has believed in me in this journey. To those who doubted me, "Fork" you.


Marc Vance

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