No, I am not Getting my MRS Degree.
To the woman who told me I was getting my MRS degree:
You were the person who helped coordinate my mother's wedding. I had said hello to you and your husband alongside my parents every Fourth of July for as long as I can remember. You even (ironically) taught me sex education at my high school, and you asked me where I was in college. I told you I attended The University of Alabama, and when you asked what I was studying, I told you Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life.
Most of the time I get an "oh cool" from those who don't care enough to ask me what my major entails, and the rest of the time I get questions about what kind of job I could obtain with it. For those of you reading this who don't know what HDFS is, it is the study of the human lifespan. The concentration in Child Life is just like it sounds - my study is concentrated on children, the stages through which they grow, developmentally appropriate activities, how to work with them in hospitals, and explaining their medical treatment in terms that make them brave little soldiers who understand what is going on in their lives.
While I could have explained all of this to you, instead you bluntly stated, "Oh so you're getting your MRS degree, girl!" I sat there stunned, my parents and brother said nothing, and your son looked just about as taken aback as I felt. Rather than apologizing, you said goodbye to my parents, and that's all that became of the situation. You never learned what this major would entail for me. You never came to find out I was paying for my schooling all on my own - with no help from my parents, mind you. Meanwhile, I worked my butt off at three jobs at once in high school just trying to earn some of the money I would need to pay my fees, or tirelessly in my high school classes to ensure I would be awarded plenty of scholarships. I didn't respond because you were someone my parents loved and respected.
What I could have said to you, and what I would have said to you had I not been so stunned by that comment was, “No.” Just because I did not choose a popular major does not make me a woman who has to one day rely on her husband for financial support. No, I do not want to lie around all day cooking, cleaning, and running errands. Yes, I want to be helpful, and yes I want to work with kids. I love and adore children and am never as happy as I am when I see a kid smile as a result of something I have done or said. I am not going to college to become a professional babysitter or nanny. Rather, I am learning how to explain to a three-year-old who is about to undergo his first surgery what anesthesia is and talking through the steps of an IV with a five-year-old, even though he's gotten them what seems like 100 times. So many children and adolescents out there need support, and I'm going to sit there with the teenagers who are on their last leg of life trying to help them understand their situation and remind them that they are loved. This is not going to be an easy job by any means. In fact, it's going to be an emotionally consuming one. This will be a job where I will have to be everyone else's backbone and shoulder to cry on; I will see sweet little souls who should be out playing baseball and running around in the sun stuck in a bed in a cold hospital ward. But my job is going to make sure that the bed in the cold hospital is surrounded with activities that improve their fine motor skills, keep them thinking creatively, and entertaining them to the point where they are not thinking about the next needle prick, surgery, or treatment.
If this was an “MRS degree,” I would not be taking anatomy - where I have learned every bone, muscle, or body part imaginable. I wouldn't be taking Death, Dying, and Bereavement - where I am taught what to do when a parent has lost their child and come up with those words no one else seems to know to say.
I am not only taking these difficult classes, but am also putting in countless volunteer hours where I stand on my feet for 12 hours FTK (For The Kids) who can't in attempt to raise $300,000. During this time I texted, called, emailed, tweeted, and Facebook messaged every person I knew and didn't know trying desperately to reach my personal fundraising goal of $500. I am volunteering in daycares, and hospitals, and Boys and Girls programs. This is because these are the steps it takes to make a difference and get an internship. Without this internship, I don't get the diploma for which I have spent countless hours making flashcards, studying, and, yes, sometimes cried for. So before you or anyone else tells someone they are getting their MRS degree, sit back, learn something, and congratulate them on their hard work.
If I am confronted with this situation again, I am prepared with what to say. I hope this situation never arises again because the truth is this: I work hard alongside 37,000 other UA students, and while some chose to fail out or not attend classes in the first place, I refuse to be one of those. I will obtain all of my hopes and goals, and if people like you want to try to belittle that - go ahead. Because I know there is some kid out there who is going to need me in one of the hardest moments of his or her life. And through all of the people like you, I'm going to be by their side making it a little better for them. Remember, just because you aren’t majoring in business or planning to go to medical school, you are not worthless and you are not getting your MRS degree. What you do in this world is important and you will affect the lives of those around you.
The girl who isn't getting her MRS degree