13 May 2011

Who Would've Thought...It Figures

My phone rang at 10:00 Tuesday night.  The caller ID looked something like this: 4479187349713001387110. So I knew it wasn't a local.

Me: "God, is that you?"
Him: "Hi Sarah, it's Dr. Kerry.  Sorry to be calling so late."
Me:  "Whoa it's like 5:00 a.m. where you are.  I don't think you need to be apologizing." [Dr. Kerry lives in England]
Him:  "Are you at a computer?"
Me:  "I can be."
Him:  "Excellent."

Dr. Kerry proceeded to guide me through the process of making dreams come true.  These are dreams that I didn't even know I had until about a week ago.  Grad school wasn't something I ever considered until January or February of this year.  It wasn't until I took Dr. Kerry's "Jews and the Holocaust" class that the thought seriously crossed my mind.  I love Dr. Kerry and I absolutely loved his class.  I've never had a professor so incredibly passionate and brilliant.  Sitting in his lectures was what I would imagine sitting in the Colosseum in 150 BC to be like: you just can't look away!  He used no notes and never so much as uttered a "um" or "where was I again?"  Just pure, brilliant expertise and intellect oozing from his lips.  He had me at "Jew."

So when I shamefully turned my research prospectus in late and he showed such genuine concern for my well being, I felt like I had personally attacked Dr. Kerry's good honor.  That I had let him down or crushed him in some way.  A couple months later, when it came time to turn in the actual research paper, I did so early, as if that would repair any damage that I had caused.  Hah.  I really put a lot into that paper.  It was on antisemitism in Romania and the lack of Holocaust education in their modern public curriculum.  After the semester ended, he emailed me his comments and my grade:  A :)  And then he said, "this would make a great  MA thesis."  Whaaaa?  Really?  It's like he unearthed this dream that I've always had but never articulated.

That fateful Tuesday night (3 days ago) Dr. Kerry discussed potential masters programs with me, all at schools in the U.K.  He studied at Oxford and is a full-time professor at Cambridge, so he's familiar with British universities.  Bonus: you can get your MA in one year in the U.K.  I'm looking most seriously at University College London, King's College London, University of Edinburgh, and University of Reading.  Anyway, why am I rambling on so?  Perhaps it is because I am still dumbfounded at how I got so lucky.  How have I merited so much attention from an obviously busy professor who spends his time publishing books and lecturing at universities across the world?  God sent him to me.  No doubt.

So are you ready for this (if you're still reading, bravo)?  Yesterday morning I got another call from that celestial 50-digit number.

Me:  "Hello again, God, do you ever sleep?"

This time Dr. Kerry had something to offer, far sweeter than anything I've ever hoped for.  He told me about a study program at the University of Cambridge that will take place this July and August.  It is reserved for Ivy League applicants, but a member of his faculty came to him the other day and asked if he knew if a student would be interested in filling a free position, since one of the students had backed out at the last minute.  So he called me?  ME?  I was bewildered and honored and flattered and shocked and elated and SO CRUSHED because I knew right away I had to turn it down.  That's, like, the top school in the solar system!

All I can think about right now is Alanis Morissette's song "Isn't it Ironic?"

An old man turned 98/He won the lottery and died the next day/It's a black fly in your chardonnay/It's a death row pardon two minutes too late/Isn't it ironic. I would add, It's turning down Cambridge when you're vying for admittance to U.K. grad schools.

I won't go into details (because I don't think I could ever explain why I feel the way that I do), but in short, I already have a backpacking trip planned with my brother in Europe and it interferes with the Cambridge program.  You may think it downright ridiculous that I don't just cancel the trip.  I know.  My brain thinks the same.  But my heart would never recover if I did.  It's an interesting situation.  Maybe eventually I'll be able to put into words my reasoning for not doing so.

Needless to say, I am sincerely grateful for a professor who genuinely cares so much about the success of one, obscure student.  As I research grad schools and MA programs, I am absolutely giddy just thinking about the future that lies in store for me. It's all still in the works.  Anything could happen.  But for now I'm moving forward.

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you/Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out.


  1. WOAH! Sarah, that is the coolest thing ever! AND... maybe you're just supposed to go to GRAD SCHOOL IN THE UK WITH ME in a year instead, right? That is seriously such a cool opportunity, but I'm glad you feel good about the choice you made. I'm sure that by turning it down you'll be on the path you're supposed to be on! How awesome is that, though?! Keep the updates coming :) I love your blog!

  2. Wait, I was all prepared for you to say that you were headed to England. Why'd you have to turn it down?? That is awesome, nonetheless. You'll get there someday.
    Why is everyone and their mom going to England for grad school (and by everyone I mean Susan and maybe you)? I am so envious/impressed! Maybe I should look into that.... "Please accept me, Oxford, even though I graduated from a lame Cal State!"

  3. Oh my gosh, wait, I just saw the last part that explained everything. Next time I won't just skim the song lyrics. :)

  4. Your mom just told me the basics of you turning down this offer; very impressive offer indeed and very impressive reflection of your strong character--the fact that you are keeping a promise to a younger brother in lieu of a great opportunity. You undoubtedly will be blessed for your choices! So proud to say I know you!