Building 21 at the Ridges seems to have a distinct smell ofacademe. Though this smell is difficult to express in words, it has left an indelibleimpression in my mind. Entering graduate school in 2010, my introduction to the Master’s of PublicAdministration program began in building 21. On a hot September day I walked into the lobbyof its historic building and was captivated with its beauty. The wood floors gleamed under afresh coat of lacquer and the white crown molding provided brilliant contrast to thenatural tan walls. Needless to say, this environment was unlike any academic setting I had everexperienced.
It was during this introduction that I met some of mygreatest friends and companions. I also committed myself to writing a thesis. Looking back, I can’tunderstand why I had such a strong desire to write a something of that enormity. Perhaps it wasthe history of Building 21 or the challenge of intellectual betterment. Either way, somethingdeep inside bubbled to the surface that day and set my fate for the next two years. Though I am the only person who elected to write a thesis, I have found the process to be quiteenriching and transformative. Prior to entering graduate school, I had very little understanding ofresearch. Now, I much more knowledgeable of scholarly research and I have honed my abilities as anacademic.
Writing a thesis changes you. It opens your mind and pushesyou to work harder. As the first MPA student to write a thesis under the Voinovich School, I have experienced tremendous mental pressure. I often tell peers that writing a thesis isunlike anything I have ever done before. Deadlines are self determined and the final draft isconceived with little oversight from faculty members. Adding to this stress is the pass or fail nature ofthesis writing. Though I feel confidant in my work, failure consistently lingers in the back of mymind. Undoubtedly, I will work hard and complete my thesis on time, but I do not know how mycommittee members will receive my work. That, is stressful…
“For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’msurprised where the journey takes me.” -Jack Dann
“Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – thewords live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It isimmortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.” -J. Michael Straczynski