After lunch, I walked over to Murphy Hall to visit Marilyn. I worked closely with Marilyn over the last two years as vice chair and then chairwoman of the Student Fee Advisory Committee. Despite lots of headaches over budget cuts, I enjoyed my time on the committee. I learned much more about the student fee (and thus make more use of student services I pay in advance for) and university decision-making structure. The work satisfied my interest in higher education issues as well as my own need to feel like a student leader.

When I got to Marilyn’s office, I saw the current chair in the conference room. I had no idea that this week’s committee meeting was about to start.

Laila asked me, “So, are you just a student now? No appointments or anything?”

I laughed. “I’ve never been just a student.”

I can’t see myself just going to class and doing research. Instead, half the time I’ve been in graduate school, I’ve held down two jobs and several student leadership positions. Some positions were demanding and required a lot of meetings and travel. I received a respectable stipend compensating me for my time and other perks (friendships, office on campus, connections, lots of frequent flyer miles and knowledge about higher education politics). I miss that work sometimes and still find a way to connect with those friends.

This year, I’m working two jobs and serving as a graduate student representative to a systemwide committee overseeing undergraduate eligibility and admissions. I spend one Friday a month in Oakland looking at way too many tables with tiny numbers. The work fits nicely with my old job where I researched the same issue.

I’m pretty sure all these extracurriculars have delayed my time to degree. On the other hand, these activities have also kept me in school. In the times I’ve most wanted to leave graduate school, I reconsidered after knowing I’d have to give up my student leadership duties and would miss the great people I’d met through those networks.

Marilyn invited me to stick around for the meeting. I stayed for 45 minutes, until it was time to return to work (job2, in case you’re wondering).


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