Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#SPARCS2015, Phoenix, Arizona: YES!!! (And also some academics-related musings)

Okay, firstly, I'm bragging a bit, but feel I must:

I WON FREE ADMISSION to the SPARCS 2015 Conference!

All of my canine cognition and anthrozoology heroes will be there; or at least a lot of them. Many are people I wrote to, asking them to be my home-school-grad-school mentors. None agreed, and very few responded, but that's okay. That was a silly and short-lived idea. I've gone ahead and applied to real grad school. Or, I should say, sort of real; it is through the amazing University of Edinburgh...one of Charles Darwin's almae matres!...but I'll be doing it as an online student. Boo :(
No teachers to bother in person.

In the interim, I'm still open to local offers...preferably ones that are accompanied by sweet fellowships, since two years ago, like an idiot (okay, like an exhausted person), I waived my continuing scholar support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation :(
At the time, I didn't think I had it in me, to continue. Now I'm sorry I was so impetuous.

If I do get the chance to continue my studies, I have to stay local or do it online, so that I can remain within this life I've made for myself, surrounded by other lives I love and care for. I have no regrets, but if there were more 'me's to go around, perhaps I'd send one me off to study in Scotland. It would tie my early childhood Lassie fantasies (collie and I running across the moors, surrounded by the bonnie heather and moody highland skies), neatly together with my late-to-the-party academic scrambling, all in an awesome setting. If I get accepted into the University of Edinburgh program (still waiting to hear), perhaps I can eventually go there to graduate...and then afterward borrow a dog and run hobble across the moors!

But meanwhile, more realistically and in the here-and-now, the SPARCS conference has suddenly, amazingly become accessible, all chock full of legitimate dog researchers I hope I get the chance to pester with questions in person! This is something I can actually jump (okay walk) into with both feet, led not by a bouncing collie, but by my own frisky brain-- which I like to let run off lead as often as possible.It moves at a snappier pace than my body, these days.

My off-lead brain sometimes gets me into trouble. I'm talking about dropping out of school at 17 to "do research my way;" I eventually (at age 49) made up for that by doing a u-turn and dropping back into school, and I've been holding a pretty steady, "traditional," educational course ever since. My old, off-the-beaten-path ideas, informed by a lifetime of experience, are still percolating, but they have been tempered by my new found academic discipline, and I believe the combination is nicely balanced. Now if I could just find the motivation/ nerve to tighten it up and publish...

SPARCS certainly may help. Every time I get exposed to people I respect, who have taken that next step and have moved forward into positing, examining, and sharing their research ideas, I get a little more motivated. Now that I'm actually rested enough after my four year, pedal-to-the-metal drive through undergraduate studies (thank you, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation!), graduating summa cum laude (I'm bragging again; its my way!) at 53 with a BA in Anthrozoology, I am ready to begin again. SPARCS this summer, and grad school in the fall...here I come!

Who knows? Maybe next year I might even present my own research at SPARCS 2016!

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