As I sit here reflecting on my final semester of graduate school, I am thinking about how the physical space has made me feel while pursuing my doctoral degree. Although I am not from the Midwest, and find it hard to cope with the very cold winters here, I can appreciate that Bloomington, Indiana has its own seasons that come and go quickly. You see, we don’t tend to think of our lives as students in seasons, especially when we are knee-deep in the trenches of our studies. In light of all of this, what has helped me to personally push through as a doctoral student and resident of the Bloomington, Indiana and Hoosier community has been my intention to grow or “bloom” into the best version of myself no matter the obstacles that I’ve faced each semester.
Each day, week, and semester I made a conscious choice to work through obstacles and seek redeeming opportunities to validate my presence in the space. Sometimes, the opportunities that I needed came directly to me because I placed myself in the right places and the right times, which is a blessing. I realized during my first very cold fall semester in 2015 that Bloomington, Indiana was a place where I needed to find moments to enjoy as I sat in class or walked through campus going to academic events. I learned to appreciate spaces like the Neal Marshall Black Cultural Center, the workout facilities, IU Auditorium, and my department home in Memorial Hall before we transitioned to Ballantine not too long ago. These spaces were more than just a plethara of academic rooms, offices, and elevators to me. These spaces contained communities of people and events that I assumed solidarity with, and also presented peers and students that I could learn from through interpersonal communication and fellowship.
What has made Bloomington a great place to grow for me has been both the unfrequented and comfortable spaces which I’ve occupied in my time here. Some of the unfrequented spaces where I did not journey through everyday, but were welcoming to all students was the Tudor Room, Alumni Hall, rooms reserved for GU2IU prospective students, the bookstore, and other spaces reserved within the union where we attended departmental events. I was also happy to spend 8 weeks in the newly renovated Global and International Studies building while I was completing my foreign language requirement for my doctoral degree during a summer here in Bloomington. In general, my reflections about living in Bloomington as a space have certainly been intentionally curated.
Choosing to “bloom” in Bloomington was something that I was determined to do, no matter how tough the seasons or tides got during my doctoral studies here. To close, I’d like to encourage all current and prospective graduate students to set a personal intention to receive tough lessons and seasons as investments of wisdom. Just changing our perspectives, or the way that we see things can catapult us into unforeseen, and limitless heights beyond the degrees that we earn.