On Sunday, June 16, 2013, I will once again graduate from Seattle University. This time, I will be walking on stage at KeyArena to signify the completion of a Masters in Education degree, my program Student Development Administration. This has been a long journey; not just with my time in the program, but my educational career up to this point.
I was given life by Shelia Denice Floyd and George Lee Pegram Sr. on April 17, 1985 in Seattle, WA. I have yet to enjoy the pleasure of parenthood; but as any parent will tell you, parenting does not come with a manual. My parents are very intelligent people, but unfortunately their life paths did not lead them to completion of a higher education degree. Regardless of their paths, somehow they knew college was always in my future. I always knew it too, but it was not solidified for me until I was 12. As a result of some of my parents’ life choices, my brothers and I Ianded in the Washington State foster care system when I was 12. We were from then on branded as “wards” of the state.
I was a ward of the state throughout my secondary education at Franklin High School. It was in high school that I discovered what my career path (at that time) would be. Due to my experience within the Washington State foster care system, I realized that I had a passion 1. for working with youth 2. for working with youth of color who also came from similar backgrounds such as myself (first generation, low-income, foster care, families with substance abuse etc.). I decided that I wanted to pursue Social Work, as both an academic discipline and also a profession. I knew that education was the passport to get this destination. Senior year came. I applied mainly to local institutions because I wasn’t ready to leave my heart beyond (my two younger brothers, George and Francis). I got into almost all of the schools that I applied to. There was one school in particular that stood out, and that was Seattle University. I am a Seattleite born and raised, but didn’t know much about Seattle University. Fortunately, teachers and other adult mentors that I had during my secondary years informed me of the benefit of a Seattle University education.
And so I was off. I was excited, but very nervous to be at Seattle University. As you all know (or should know), I am not a shy person by nature. The experience of college overall, and the Seattle University culture left me in a state of culture shock. This shock continued until about the middle of my sophomore year. It was then that I started to dabble in what will now be my profession, Student Affairs. At the middle of my sophomore year, I applied to be an Resident Assistant (RA). I got the position! I have always been a natural leader. It wasn’t until my RA appointment that I got to see what I could do/the influence that I could have on the Seattle University campus and vice versa. I took on other leadership roles through the Center for Service and Community Engagement, Leadership Development, and various other one time campus and community engagement opportunities. By the end of my four years, I was a Redhawk through and through.
This love for Seattle University, coupled with my Student Affairs involvement created a shift in the new phase of my educational/career journey. I still graduated from undergrad with a Bachelors in Social Work in 2007, but I no longer felt that social services was the specific way in which I was destined to serve students. Student Affairs became my focus. Since I figured out this focus a little late and I wasn’t quite ready to leave Seattle University, I applied only to the Student Development Administration program at SU in January of 2007. I was admitted and began my studies in September.
My start in the program was a rough one, similar to what I experienced in undergrad but with less culture shock and more juggling. I was working full time between a property management position and a graduate assistantship, volunteering in the community, AND attending grad school full time. Not only were those tangible things stressing me out, but I was also stressed out by the prospect of completing the Student Development Administration (SDA) program in two years and not having an idea of how I should best serve students. This stress, coupled with a large personal loss, forced me to reevaluate not only my academic priorities, but my personal and health based priorities as well.
I took two years away from the SDA program. During this time, I better understood the power of reflection and the necessity of self-care. Also during this time, I did a lot of personal work. When I felt ready, I applied for re-admission into the SDA program. I came back into the program a more focused, confident, and most importantly, more peaceful student in September 2011.
In Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation, Parker Palmer states “…many young people today journey in the dark, as the young always have, and we elders do them a disservice when we withhold the shadowy parts of our lives”. This quote is symbolic of the importance of sharing our dark moments, as well as the importance of providing mentorship to current and future generations. My dark moments are partially responsible for the success that I now have. However, the dark moments alone have not made me successful. It has been my ability to push through those moments, and later, to share those experiences in an educational capacity. My time at Seattle University was powerful in unlocking this understanding. I have already, and will continue to go into this world infused with the Jesuit philosophy of education-emphasis on educating the mind, body, and spirit of the entire person. I feel equipped to enter Student Affairs and serve students’ minds, bodies, and spirits with the knowledge, experience, and background that I offer.
Veratta Simone Pegram-Floyd, M.Ed
Future Ph.D or Ed.D Candidate…