by Contributing Essayist, Katharine Ransom
The first time I realized I might not be able to finish my terminal degree was on the morning of November 9th. I was absolutely distraught: When I started this program, I assumed Hillary would win the election and all would continue as usual. Over the next few weeks, I tried to maintain hope that something or someone would prevent Trump from taking office. I successfully completed my first semester with a 3.9 GPA and tried to hold onto that hope. As time passed, and opportunities for the future I planned on slipped away, my desire to continue down this road of academia continued to dwindle. My background in Economics and Business tells me that many of Trump’s policies will not be good for the economy; and I don’t mean that neo-liberal policies are the solution to the world’s problems. He does not consider the struggles of women, minorities, the LGBTQ, or disabled persons in his policies. He does not consider how hard some of us have to fight, every day, just to make it through.
At this point, pursuing a PhD at my current institution does not seem like a viable option due to the associated costs. I was not working during my first semester and used student loans to cover my expenses. As I saw my student loan debt grow, the more and more uncomfortable I became. There are people with 20 years of experience who have completed their degree and are having trouble finding employment. What will I be able to do with a degree in Transformative Studies and a focus in Feminist Economics when most people have a hard time understanding what those words mean? The sad part is that I love the school, the program, and my cohort. I learned so much about myself, the world, and my field last semester. I made friendships that filled my heart and stimulated my brain in a way I never thought was possible.
This is the first time I feel like I must forgo my dreams and goals for a more realistic future. I turned 27 last month, and up until then, I believed anything was possible. The more I learn about the struggles minority groups face, the more I see how corrupt this world is and how I have less power than I thought I did: The rose-colored glasses have come off.
As depressing as this essay has been up to this point, I will use this time and shift in my life to pursue other goals and dreams. Last semester, in a class called Creative Inquiry, we had an assignment to discuss how we wanted our research to impact our respective fields. It needed to be at least 8 pages and I could not see such a detailed future for myself. Instead, I wrote three possible futures and the one that made me the happiest was where I talked about buying a homestead, farming, having an animal sanctuary, and continuing to write academic papers without having the standard academic career. There has been a growing desire to spend more time in nature and try and improve the environment. I don’t feel that my research area is unimportant, but if we have no planet to live on, gender issues won’t be as serious of a problem. I’d like to get more involved in community recycling and food waste reduction programs. I’d like to participate in a community garden. There are ways I can help improve society, ways that I never felt like I could navigate before.