It's official! I'm going to be a Tiger!
Ok, ok. I'll always really only be a Husker, but I have decided that I'll be entering the PhD program at the University of Missouri.
As most of you know, it's been a long, long process that started almost a year ago. Over the last year, I have been to Salt Lake City, Utah, Eugene, Oregon, Seattle and Pullman, Washington, Philadelphia, PA, and Columbia, Missouri to try to put myself in the best position possible to be accepted to the programs I applied to and to learn as much as possible about them in order to make the right decision when it came down to it.
I'm not going to lie, it was a very time- and money-intensive process, but I believe that all of my hard work has paid off. Missouri has a great up-and-coming program with lots of young, well-known faculty members who I am very excited to work with. The woman that will be my advisor, Mary Shenk, comes from the University of Washington and, from what I can tell so far, is a real go-getter who is motivated to do new and interesting research in the field of anthropology.
Through my experience at Nebraska, I have learned how important it is to have a good relationship with your advisor. I received (and am still receiving) a lot of help and advice from several of the faculty members here at NU and the experience has been invaluable. In the end, though, it was my advisor (and a secondary advisor as well) that went to bat for me. I was incredibly lucky to have stumbled onto a program that was in my hometown (which made the decision about a Master's program pretty dang easy) and had two of the most well-known evolutionary anthropologists in the country. I have been even luckier that they are not only VERY smart people, but that they are interested in my success. I have done a lot of the hard work necessary to be successful at this level, but without their constant support and guidance, I'm more than certain that my PhD application process wouldn't have been nearly the success that it was. I believe that with Mary Shenk at Missouri, I will be working with another advisor who wants me to be successful, will give me every tool I need to do so, and will go to bat for me when the time comes to find a job. At that time, I will be very happy to have my name associated with hers (I only hope she can say the same once this is all said and done...).
Of course it doesn't hurt that Columbia, Missouri is only 5 hours from home, or that one of my best friends lives in Kansas City, which is only an hour and a half from Columbia (and on the way home), or that one of my very good friends here in Lincoln also got her PhD from Missouri and gives it a glowing recommendation. These things did not help me make my decision, but they are certainly icing on the cake.
I would have LOVED to live in Seattle, or work with some of the downright amazing minds at Utah, or do my fieldwork with the Aka hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin. It was hard to choose to give those things up. But, for whatever reason, Missouri just feels right. It feels like a place that I will enjoy calling home for the next few years.
I have now officially accepted the offer from Missouri and have officially declined offers from the other three schools. So now, I've got to worry about finishing my statistics class, writing a stellar thesis, and graduating in August. Then I can pack my things and head off for a new adventure!
Thanks to all of you for your concern and support throughout this process. Oh, and I know that all of you Lincoln people were rooting for Missouri all along... I was onto you.