I started graduate school right after I earned my B.A., in part because I wasn't ready to face "real life" yet. I moved from Utah to Arizona, not exactly sure that it was the right move for me, but absolutely sure that I needed to leave Utah and experience something new.
That first year, I immersed myself in American literature, loving everything about being a graduate student. I read and researched and studied and wrote--and I didn't quite care what would happen to me at the end of that process. But somewhere along the way, I acknowledged that ambitious part of me that wanted a career as a professor--at the same time that I came to understand how difficult it was to get that type of a career as an Americanist.
Would I have pursued graduate school if I had really known how challenging the job market was? I don't know. All I know is that I worked hard and strategized about how to get a job. And, miraculously, at the end of graduate school, I was hired as an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. I felt so lucky that this happened to me, that I was one of the lucky few to get employment as a tenure track professor.
Fast forward 16 years to today--I just found out that I have been promoted to full professor. Over the years, I've thought about the tenure system, job security, and the inequities of a system that focuses so much on publication over any other sort of dissemination of information. I don't like that about my career--and yet, at this particular moment, I have to pause, reflect, and enjoy the moment. I know I have worked as hard as anyone I know to get to this point in my career. Although I don't believe that I deserve this more than anyone else, I do believe that I deserve this moment, this time to feel proud of my career, and to appreciate how unlikely this seemed so many years ago.
So I rest, I accept the congratulations of colleagues, friends, and students. I consider how many people have helped me get to this point. And I'm grateful, so very, very grateful. I can't express how much I am grateful and humble and appreciative that this job worked out for me.
And then, I contemplate my next steps and the kinds of differences I can make given the position I am now in.