Thursday, March 14, 2019

Going Home for Further Studies

So something major happened this past month.  I thought I posted about it here, but I guess I didn't.  (I know I did on TG Forum.)  Seems my projects blend these days.

In any case, I mentioned previously that I'd applied to my alma mater, Penn State, for PhD study.

A little background for those new to this blog- I started college at Drexel University in 1984.  I was a Civil Engineering major, because I wanted to make a lot of money, and I chose a city school because I grew up in a tiny, dying foundry town.  I wanted the Bright Lights and Experience that the city implied.

Well, I hated it.  I hated Drexel; I hated the studies; and I HATED the city.  The only good experiences I had were the people I met, like my roomie "Ripper" Rob Young.  (I wonder what happened to him.)  I also pledged a fraternity.  In May 1985, I was initiated as a brother of Phi Kappa Sigma.

In any case, I hated Drexel SO much that I decided to transfer out.  Long story short (too late,) I transferred to Penn State Main campus, arriving in State College in August 1986.  It was the biggest decision in my life up to that point (that anyone knew.)  It was also one of the best.

With an Old Friend, Feb 2019

Oh, if you didn't know, I wrote a book about my Penn State experience called Men of the Skull, which I serialized some of here in the blog.  Find the first chapter HERE.

With the exception of breaks and Summer 1987, I lived at Penn State from August 1986 to December 1988, when I left for Student Teaching.  I graduated in May 1989, in the midst of deep depression.  So, subtracting that summer I wasn't there, I was at PSU for two whole years.  Not much in the scheme of things, really.

So why do I consider it "Home?"  Happy Valley is my Happy Place.  It's not like I had the four years many people have there.  In any case, like many alumni, I visit as often as I can.  Over the years, so much has changed, except one constant- the students are mostly between 17 and 22 years old.

When I was an undergrad, I was a person whose life was spinning out of control.  I buried my Truth- that I was really female, and did my best to be the male that I appeared on the outside.  I drank. I fought.  My fraternity brothers at Penn State sensed I was different, and I was- they were the Popular guys.  They were the creme de la creme of their high schools: athletes, rich kids... the guys who got any woman they wanted.  And then there was me: skinny, awkward, depressed, and hiding a Dark Secret.  Oh, and Initiated.  I was a transfer Brother, and many of them to this day never let me forget it.  This is one of the main topics of my book.

I received my Masters degree in Instructional Design from Penn State Great Valley in 2007, and worked there for a time.

This August, Thirty Three years after I first arrived in State College, I will return to start my PhD studies. 

Yes, I was accepted.

There are details yet to be ironed out, such as financial aid, place to live, etc.  My roomie/bestie will be moving with me.  For her, it's the opportunity to start fresh- full time as Linda. 

There are differences this time around. 

1) I want to live away from the undergrads.  I am too old to go to parties ("Who is that creepy old person?  Your grandmother?") and I want quiet in which to study.  Therefore, I'll be living away from downtown State College.  Also, I rarely drink any more. 

2) I am not the 19 year old who first moved there.  I am 52, and will turn 53 soon after starting.  I have been around the world.  I've learned so much, and know that I'll never stop learning.  Also, I know my weaknesses and failures.

3) The biggest difference: I am no longer hiding my Truth.  The person who will work for that degree is the woman I was born to be (almost.)  No more pretending and lying to everyone, especially myself. 

Does this mean I now won't visit my fraternity house?  Of course I will.  They hold events for alumni, and I'll attend those. 

In any case, I'll be going Home.  It will take at least 5 years to complete the degree.  Wife and daughter said they'd visit twice a month. 

How does this make me feel?  I don't feel anything yet.  I don't think it'll hit me until all the furniture and boxes are in the new place, and I'm settling in.

Still... Penn State...



  1. Awesome!!! Congratulations hon!!! :D


  2. Best of luck to you. One day I hope to be back.

  3. Damn Sophie, I knew something good would come to you if you would only be able to wait for it. Very, very happy for you (and Linda). You'll do great!


  4. Congrats my friend! Do well and be brilliant! One thing that I don't understand though - you went to school in Philly partly because you hated the city??!! Philly is a freaking HUGE city. What am I missing? LOL

    1. No, I thought I would love the city, as I came from a small tow. I was wrong- I hated it.