Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

For most of my adult life my career goals were limited to “making a difference” and this is what inspires my pursuit of a graduate degree today. This admittedly vague idea of what I wanted to do has often led to some justifiably curious looks from my elders as well as a long, winding road to my pursuit of a graduate degree. My first job after completing my undergraduate career was a corporate one and unsurprisingly did not mesh well with my innate desire to make a positive difference on society. It did, however, allow me to pursue a contract with the United States Army and the chance (in my mind at least) to finally make a real difference.
As I began my Army career, I envisioned that the way to truly help make my community a better place was through directing policy at a high level. What I actually learned though, was that the most fulfillment I received and the biggest differences I made were in the lowest levels that I worked. Mentoring and instructing young soldiers while demonstrating faith in their abilities was responsible for some of the most rewarding time of my life. It also spread beyond the individuals that I worked with in a cascade as my former soldiers went on to become leaders in their own right and in turn provided mentorship and guidance to a new generation. While I eventually left the Army due to dissatisfaction with bureaucratic work as I moved up the ranks, I learned exactly what I needed to do to both be fulfilled personally as well as professionally.
I am inspired in my pursuit of a graduate degree by my desire to make a positive impact on society starting at the individual level. I want to teach at the community college where adult students from diverse and sometimes difficult backgrounds are seeking to improve themselves and their families’ lives through education. I’ve learned that this is what fulfills me and what helps me make the largest possible positive impact on my community.

Blake from Virginia
NC State