Even before we were engaged, I knew Nate wanted to go to graduate school. His biology degree was never the 'final' step of his career path and it was always a matter of WHICH career he would pursue. When he quit his biotech job in St. Louis right before our wedding, I knew that he wasn't going back to the working world in that area. I knew he'd begin to take pre-requisite classes in the summer of 2007 and again in the fall of 2007. But he had so many ideas of what he wanted to be when he grew up. Medical school? He always wanted to be a doctor but all of a sudden, that dream didn't seem like it would fit with his other life's goals of having a family life and he wasn't sure he wanted to be in school THAT long with THAT much debt. I supported that decision. Physician's Assistant? Close enough to a doctor but less schooling, it was a thought. Dentistry? We moved to Milwaukee because Nate was on the wait list at Marquette's dental school, although we weren't 100% sure that would be the right pick either (obviously, things always work out for the best).
Then came the original thought of Nate becoming a Physical Therapist. You see, not only am I a PT but Nate's dad is one, too. He's surrounded by our kind, I guess, and the most ironic part of this entire story is that Nate was accepted to SLU's PT program as a senior in high school----just like me. He attended SLU as a part of their freshman-admit PT program, right on track to graduate with his Master's in 2005. But he made the decision to switch into pre-med after one semester, going for that dream of the title 'Doctor'. At least he still met the woman of his dreams at SLU even if he switched his major:)
Fast forward about 7 years later, when he was a newlywed trying to make a huge decision about his career life. He knew that PT would be a great fit for him: a people-person, who likes to make his own decisions, never be at a desk all day long, with amazing job security as the baby boomer generations ages. I didn't push him into this decision and neither did his dad, but we were so happy when he finally picked therapy to be his path. I remember the day we got the acceptance letter from UWM saying he was one of only 15 students selected to be in the class of 2011's Doctoral program. Yes, because he missed his original opportunity to get his Master's degree he now had to endure an extra year for the D.P.T. because that is now the standard across the nation. His measly little wife gets 'grandfathered' in with her M.P.T. and can practice in all the same jobs, with the same pay, as the higher degree. Yes, irony at it's finest.
I remember when PT school began for Nate in the summer of 2008, after one whole year of pre-requisites. It was brutal and I hated seeing him gone every day from 8-4 then studying every night and all weekend long. But I knew we had to get used to this shift in our new marriage because May of 2011 seemed like an eternity. I still don't know how I convinced him to start a family before he was done with school but he will admit now that having Truman was the best decision we've made yet (told you so!) even if the timing seemed crazy at first. Our roles as husband and wife and parents have been anything but typical and sometimes it was tough, for sure, but you know what? Those three years FLEW by (four years if you count the pre-requisite year). I dreamed of this day for so long, the day when Nate would wear his doctoral cap and gown and get his degree. I dreamed of a day we would have two salaries in this marriage. A day when my husband wouldn't need to study all weekend or pay for textbooks or tuition. And now it's here and it's hard to believe.
Nate is one of the most determined, intelligent, outgoing, and positive people in my life. He deserves this moment in the spotlight for this ginormous accomplishment. To say that I'm proud of him in a huge understatement. And it's not all about the second income, like I thought it would be. It's about the fact that my husband has a career that will make him happy, fulfilled, and one that suits his personality perfectly. It took a lot of sacrifice on both of our parts to get to this point and our newlywed years will always have stories that are far from the norm. I wouldn't have it any other way.
This past weekend was the big graduation ceremony, plus a small 'pinning' ceremony just for his PT class. My parents came to town to help celebrate and we had a small BBQ on Sunday night after the graduation in honor of the newest PT of the house. It was amazing and just what the doctor ordered for me (bad pun intended). Some pictures to show you the exciting milestone:
fave family photo ever:
I always rolled my eyes when Nate said I'd have to call him a doctor when he graduated. I mean, please---he's not a Physician or a PhD or anything. As his wife it's my duty to make sure his head doesn't get too big, right? But I have to admit, seeing him in that doctoral cap and gown, reading his diploma got me all teary eyed. I'm just so proud of my hubby. All that is left to do now is take the national boards exam (June 7--say your prayers!) in order to get his license and he already found a fabulous job that will begin on May 31. Although the past month has been one of much heartache and sadness for our family this achievement is something that we can claim as one hugely happy event for us all. Nate is done with school...finally. And also: already? :)