Last summer, I applied to get into a doctorate program, but wasn’t accepted. I was terribly disappointed, and truth be told, a little angry. I was certainly not the perfect candidate, but I was told that I was a good candidate, partly because my reason for applying wasn’t because I just want another degree. My reason for applying was because I want to do research that will legitimize art therapy as a treatment method for people with diabetes. I want to demonstrate that people with diabetes will somehow benefit from art-making, whether it’s improved quality of life (heaven knows we can use a little of that!), decreased depression, improved BG management as a result of improved quality of life or decreased depression, or some other indicator that art therapy helps. I know in my heart that art therapy can help diabetics. I just have to prove it by whipping up a little scientific research.
So I was a good candidate because I had a driving purpose behind getting an advanced degree, but they had a few somewhat arbitrary, I thought, prerequisites for admission. One was credits in multicultural counseling. Now, the program to which I applied was the same program from which I received my master’s degree, and when I attended, they didn’t offer a course in multiculturalism, so of course, I don’t have credits in it. I never pursued taking any additional classes or workshops in multiculturalism beyond school because given the choice between a workshop on medical art therapy, or a workshop providing art therapy to an indigenous population in some remote area of the world, for example, I’m going to take the medical art therapy workshop because that’s my interest, and it’s more relevant to my work. Duh.
Besides my educational deficit in the area of multiculturalism, I’ve never had anything published in a professional publication, nor have I submitted anything for publication. I offered a writing sample as part of the application packet, but it wasn’t anything that had been published. Certainly, I would like to get something published, and expressed that to the program director, but in the time line in my head, that was something I’d be more likely to do once I had this degree, not before.
If I’d only been missing the multicultural credits, or I’d only been missing the published work, I think they would have accepted me because again, I don’t want a degree to have a degree, I want a degree to infuse a little paint and sprinkle some glitter on the world of diabetes patients, which might sound kind of inconsequential to some, but I think it could be of great value. Alas, the two strikes added up to a rejection letter though.
Back at square one, and now even more determined to make this happen, I started to gather my application materials for the other school I was considering, Lesley University. By the time I had decided to try to return to school, I had completely missed the application deadline to start the Lesley program in 2010, so I set my sights on getting my application together to be considered for 2011. While the application deadline was March 1st, I had everything submitted by mid October. Then I waited.
And waited some more.
March was barely in full swing before I started to check my mailbox, probably a little compulsively. On the days when Jason happened to check the mail before I did, there was my obligatory, “Was there anything for me??” He’d fork over nothing that qualified as notification about the status of my application. I think there might have even been a couple of days when I checked the mailbox again after the mail had been delivered, you know, just in case I had missed it. My impatience was escalating to record levels, but there was nothing I could do but wait. Oh, and stalk our poor mail lady.
Monday, the envelope arrived. I set it down, afraid to open it. It was a big 9″x12″ envelope, which seemed like a good sign. There was clearly not much in it though. I walked into the other room, turned around, and returned to the envelope. My momentary hesitance evaporated, and I ripped it open. I saw the first word, “Congratulations!” and did some possibly embarrassing dash/dance/jumping thing that came with some screaming/squealing thing that thankfully, no one was here to witness. I texted Jason and my mom with the great news, and spazzed away on Facebook so badly that I made some rather egregious typos.
Lesley University is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but I won’t be relocating from the Philly area. They call it, “low residency”, so most of the work will be done independently, but for the next 3 years, I will be going to the campus for 3 weeks in the summer. I’m a little nervous about starting school again, but I’m super excited too. More than anything though, I’m anxiously anticipating the opportunity to do research on how art therapy can help people with diabetes because as far as patient care goes, we deserve so much better than what is offered to most of us. I’m ready to get creative to help change that, and now I’m going to have a brand new opportunity to do so!