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Defining Moment: My Why | Master's Degree

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Next stop...

Lindley Gallegos, M.Ed.

I am spending the next four months finishing up my master's degree! I couldn't be more excited. I started my master's in higher education in May 2017 through Penn State's World Campus. You can read about my program here.

While in undergrad I had always wondered about online education and the truth: I love it. Sometimes I miss the in-class lectures from Fort Lewis College, and I wouldn't change my undergraduate classroom time for anything. But getting my master's online has been awesome, hard work, but awesome.

The readings seem more pleasurable and I enjoy managing my own time and doing my own deep exploration. Not to mention, I can take my classes from Denmark! If you have questions about doing an online program. I would be happy to share my experiences with you.

My Why

In my capstone course last week we were asked to reflect on a “defining moment” that led us to pursue the M.Ed. in Higher Education. And upon reflection, I gave an answer only a true millennial would: my mama.

This is a photo of me and my mom in October in Mexico City, visiting my sister Rachel (pictured in the background)

When I think about moments that have defined me, I often think of my mom. I feel fortunate to have been raised by such a strong woman who values higher education so faithfully. My mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2016, and she is still fighting it today. It has been hard for her and our family.

But when I talk to her, and she reflects upon her life and things that fulfill her, she tells me she will be content in dying if she knows that she raised three women to be college-educated. I am pursuing higher education for me, but also for my mom. When I asked my mom why she thinks higher education is so important she said,

"Higher education is one of my highest values, next to honesty and integrity, because I believe in education. Educating (and continued lifelong learning) oneself and others is critical to becoming the best of who you are and to being the contributor to society you were meant to be.

We come from a privileged lot, and so we owe it to our God, our family and our communities to be educated enough to give back in a meaningful and grateful way. Lifelong learning (the continued search for knowledge and not taking your knowledge/beliefs for granted) is key to a happy and successful life. Also in our society higher education practically ensures a higher salary in life.

And especially because you are women, I wish you to be educated to be able to support yourselves so that you never are indebted to a spouse. Choosing love is beautiful, but I wish for you always to stand on your own and never feel dependent or trapped."

My mom wants to leave here knowing that she gave us that gift. Higher education is invaluable and I am so honored that my mom has shared her values about it with me. She has raised me to lead as a woman and stand in my greatness. Every asset I have was once a small seed inside me that she watered. I cannot put in words how thankful I am for her guidance and direction in my life.

I want to work in higher education to help shape young adults like my mom shaped me. Being young is hard, and I have been blessed to have strong mentors– especially in my mom. Young people need fearless leaders that can instill strength and confidence in them.

If you work with students don't underestimate the role you play in their lives, you likely play a bigger role than you know. To my friends and colleagues who work in higher education-- thank you for the work you do. I want to work in higher education because I believe in what it stands for: hope.

Follow my journey:

I will spend the next four months working on a paper that makes a strong case for the use of race in the college admissions process. I'd love to talk to you about it! You can see all the projects I've been working on here in my portfolio.

And lastly, here are my favorite books to date from this program. I wish I had read these earlier on, while in undergrad.

  • Generation on a Tightrope by Arthur Levine

  • The Defining Decade by Meg Jay PhD

  • Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz

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