My LopeLife: Master’s degree was the right choice

October 16, 2020 / by / 0 Comment

Ashlee Larrison has experienced the GCU culture as both an employee and a student.

Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. This time it’s tied to Fall Commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday and viewable here. It annually produces inspiring stories of online students, and for GCU Today it hits close to home this year because one of the graduates comes from our department. Here is her story — and, yes, it’s inspiring. 

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

It’s funny the role choice can play in one’s overall perspective.

If you would have asked me 10 years ago where higher education would take me, to be honest, I probably would have responded with a snarky remark about not even wanting to go to college.

At the time, I had no desire to pursue a bachelor’s degree, let alone a master’s, by the age of 25.

But here I am.

This week, I find myself celebrating my Master of English with an Emphasis in Education degree from Grand Canyon University, which I have grown to respect and appreciate as both a student and an employee.

Sure, I had a plan for my undergraduate degree after finishing high school, but it was one that, at the time, seemed completely dependent on the fact that I would have had to grow up and move out of my parents’ house faster than I would have liked if I wasn’t enrolled in college.

For that reason, the decision to finish my undergraduate degree didn’t really feel like my choice. But I wouldn’t change it for the world because it then led me to GCU, a university that would change my mind.

After graduating with a degree in journalism, I struggled to find a job that fit my degree qualifications and had to begin paying back the student loans I had accrued. Often, I found myself wondering if the effort I had put into getting my degree was even worth it.

Then I was hired as Staff Writer in GCU’s Office of Communications and Public Relations, and that all changed. It began a new phase in my life, one that allowed me to gain a new perspective on my ability. In addition, I got to experience a campus culture that makes me wish I could have been part of it as an undergrad.

I figured that if there ever was a time to see what I was capable of academically, it was now. What started as a trial run grew into an appreciation of the knowledge I was gaining. One A in a class would turn into two and then three, with each class that followed being an opportunity to see how long I could keep straight A’s.

When the pandemic hit, my program was the only thing keeping me sane with all the chaos happening in the world around me.

Yet with the start of every new class came the anxiety of the unknown, and with it ensued more than a fair share of mental breakdowns.

In the middle of my program, I would find myself crying hysterically to my mother over the phone about an assignment that seemed too complicated for my mind to even fathom completing. It was the beginning of the pandemic, I hadn’t left the house in a month, and the routine of completing homework and assignments was beginning to be accompanied by a recurring question: “Why did I decide to do this?” 

Now that I have reached the end of my program, I have received the answer:

I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for.

I made the choice to enroll in graduate school.

I made the choice to push myself.

And I made the choice to graduate.

It’s been a journey that I never in a million years would have thought myself capable of, but God must have known the growth I would find at GCU when He placed me on campus for that interview in the chill of the night after Christmas.

GCU gave me so much more than just a job that night. It gave me a community that allowed me to grow to heights that I never deemed possible. And for that I will always be grateful.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: My LopeLife: Strengthening our bonds in hard times

GCU Today: My LopeLife: Campus calmed his culture clash

GCU Today: My LopeLife: How GCU’s warm welcome changed her


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