It is with great pleasure and excitement that I approach the thought of entering the graduate program at Vermont College. Upon graduating from the New College program in January of this year, I was cast into a great deal of turmoil. My study had opened many new doors to me, but I was uncertain as to proceed. I considered many possibilities, but found that each left me feeling hollow.
Approximately a month ago, I happened across some information about the Masters of Liberal Studies program at Harvard University. While reading through the course offerings and the goals and objectives for the degree, I found a lot of my old passion and enthusiasm returning. Perhaps it is not surprising that such a program would interest me, considering that I have already earned two degrees in liberal studies, but I had never considered continuing down the path I had already started.
Though the program at Harvard was interesting, I quickly realized that it was not the best match for my particular interests. It was at that point in time that I remembered that Vermont College offered graduate degrees. In fact, one of my mentors from the New College program, Rebecca Noel, had suggested the program to me a year and a half ago.
As a graduate student, I plan to continue the work I started while in the New College program. Over my last year at the college, from February 2000 to January 2001, I conducted two studies on vampire folklore. These studies culminated in a thesis entitled "The Vampire in Modern American Media".
My studies in the graduate program will continue to explore my intense personal interest in the relationship between the human spirit, culture and art. Over the course of the next eighteen months, I hope to study the appearance of women in American and European folklore and mythology. Because I have an interest in women's issues, I will also attempt to incorporate some of the theories of women's studies into my curriculum. Eventually, this study will culminate in a thesis about the appearance of the female hero in modern folklore and mythology. I will use a variety of art forms in conjunction with this project.
My ultimate goal consists of two distinct parts. First, I would like to use my knowledge and experience to teach in an adult or online degree program. I believe that my prior experience as a student in these types of educational settings will give me unique insight as a teacher. In addition, I also anticipate conducting further research on my area of interest. It is my hope that this research will culminate in a novel, scholarly text or journal articles.
Because of my past exposure to distance education programs, I am confident in my ability to complete this program successfully. I have had extensive experience working one-on-one with an advisor. Inevitably, I find myself thriving on such an academic relationship. Over the last few years, I have found that I am capable of pushing myself further in this type of educational program than I am in a traditional setting. There is less competition for the attention of the professor; and, due to the use of email and other forms of asynchronous communication, one does not have to struggle to develop an active, exciting dialogue with the people who are guiding them.
Additionally, the New College program taught me two skills that I believe will be an asset to my studies at the graduate level. The ability to examine texts with a critical eye is vital. Sometimes, an author's logic may be flawed or simply inaccessible. As a student, you must be unafraid to admit that a source is not working. In that process, you inevitably uncover something about your subject or yourself that will fundamentally alter your relationship with your material. Connected to this skill is another that is equally important. Flexibility is essential in any student in this type of individualized study. Scholarly work is inherently organic. As a student grows, so too does the study. Though one obviously does not freely add or remove content, it is important to keep the mind alive to alternate possibilities.
My community will also play a large part in my studies. Working at Dartmouth College is probably the strongest asset I have. The ability to access large amounts of material from the library system or to see plays and other artistic endeavors sponsored by the college will be extremely helpful. Tapping into the faculty or departments, such as the women's resource center, will also be beneficial to my studies. However, the online community that I actively participate in will provide the largest amount of material for me. Not only can I find websites sponsored by folklorists and professional organizations, but I can also access artist websites. In some cases, I will be able to interview artists, through email or on the telephone, about their work.
The next two years will be extremely exciting for me both personally and educationally. The chance to continue what I have already started at Vermont College will be extremely satisfying. When leaving the New College program, I felt like I had been brought to a halt at mid-thought. By continuing my studies in the graduate program, I will be able to finally complete that thought and prepare myself for many others.