Life After Grad School: Making it all go Swimmingly

Like many of my classmates who are nearing the end of their degree program, I am suddenly realizing that my May 2011 graduation date is no longer a distant goal, but instead a rapidly approaching reality. I am one of those students who chose to do my MBA on the “Degree in Three” fast track (while working full time), which is an ambitious pace, to say the least. So naturally, I am relieved and excited to be reaching the end of this journey.

But interestingly enough, I have discovered that a whole new set of personal and professional goals are emerging that I hope to tackle as soon as my schedule frees up. The idea of lifelong learning used to be a bit abstract to me, but now I can’t imagine my life without it. As I ponder the list of things I want to do next, I am finding that the rigor of my MBA program has vastly expanded my view of what’s possible for me to accomplish.

For me personally, my favorite example is my new-found goal of learning to swim. After graduation, I will be treating myself to a trip to Tahiti (all beach and ocean!), but unfortunately, I never learned to swim. That’s just the way it’s been all these years – a childhood skill left unmastered and permanently labeled as unattainable. But then, a few months ago while planning my water-centric trip, I changed how I was framing this issue and asked myself one very simple question: Well, why not just learn to swim now? Since starting the MBA program, I have become a firm believer that education (whether formal or informal) combined with a lot of hard work is pretty much the path to most things, so how could I not pursue this goal?

Four weeks ago I began swim lessons at Foss Swim School and am already making substantial progress. I’ll admit, I bring all of the discipline and determination to my swim lessons as I do to my MBA classes, and I can see now just how much my MBA is helping me achieve all of my goals on so many levels. Ironically, I’ve discovered that I love swimming so much, taking lessons isn’t nearly enough anymore. I am now planning to join a competitive swim team for fun and fitness next summer. Once you open the door to changing how you think about the world and your place in it, big things begin to happen.

I have equally ambitious professional goals which are still taking shape, but above all, I am compelled to express my strong desire to use my graduate-level education and nearly 20 years of experience to create real and sustainable positive change in the world. I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had at St. Thomas – not just to earn a degree – but for the confidence it has given me to continually challenge myself to reach for that next important goal.

This post is by Evening UST MBA student Larissa Rodriguez, a full-time marketing and communications executive.