Lessons from a Master’s

Visiting Campus

Editor’s Note: Visiting CampusIn November 2013, I completed my M.A. in International Relations and World Order from the University of Leicester.  I had completed the research degree over two years in my ‘spare time,’ trying to read and write where I could.  The degree could be completed entirely by distance learning, though I visited campus and met with my adviser in 2012–it helped to reinforce some of the thoughts I had while locked away in solitary study.  I was asked to write some thoughts for future students about the challenges of distance learning, and I thought they might be worth posting to my website as well.

It’s valuable to admit to oneself that earning a post-graduate degree, especially by distance learning, can be an exhausting, rewarding trial.  Once that admission is internalized, one can form a strategy to making it to graduation.  I knew earning a Master’s would be difficult, but I didn’t really know what that meant until the course began.

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In Search of Blue Water: Part 2


Though most of the island trails were blocked by makeshift barriers to protect nesting pelicans and seagulls, two prized trails were still open for conquest–the one to the peak of Santa Barbara Island, and another to a small lighthouse on the very edge of the island.

We had sailed for hours from Catalina, seeing nothing but rolling waves and the occasional scavenging bird.

Now was our time.  Santa Barbara has no residents, and only a small ranger house, and we would exploit that freedom in every way possible: to enjoy what nature had set neatly and alone off the coast of California.

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In Search of Blue Water: Part 1

The Open Road

Editor’s Note:  This is the first of three narrative accounts of a journey at sea.  More dispatches to land in the coming days.

It’s sometimes hard to swallow:  the stinging reality of things we can’t change.  As regular readers of this site know, my best friend Joe is heading to Iraq on a 1-year deployment.

I’ve known him for many years, since our days teaching at a Boy Scout camp in the Inland Northwest.  Joe taught lifesaving, and I taught rowing, but we both cherished sailing.  We were both introduced to harnessing wind by a laughing coworker pushing us into a small boat, alone.

Those coworkers are long gone, most never having sailed again.  Joe and I…are sailors.

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