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Alumni Spotlight: Holly Shumway

September 10, 2009

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    Student Spotlight: Holly Shumway
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While watching the spring rains make up for a somewhat dry winter, I found myself at a familiar spot, in front of our family computer.  Family computer is a notion many graduate students might not need to deal with, but for me, as a mother of three, sharing a computer is sort of akin to sharing the bathroom.  There is never enough time, someone is always on it, just when you get off, someone else jumps on, and we hardly ever have enough paper, printer paper that is. 

In our house, my husband and I hold a belief that we are lifelong learners.  We model this belief to our children, hence the battle for the computer.  Thankfully my family celebrates that graduate school allows for lots of reading that takes me out of the computer pool for long stretches of the day.  Alongside my children, I help them with their homework and they help me with mine.  For them I answer questions that have definitive answers, for me they supply me with life experiences that explain many of the psychological theories I am learning about and make me question whether the theorists ever really studied living breathing children.  Life span development plays out right in my kitchen.  Should I mention that I have the whole adolescent period of development occurring right before my eyes?  How about sibling rivalry, parenting, marriage and couple issues?  I have it all covered.  I try not to create a living lab in my house, but my family makes for some interesting observations.  And then there are our three dogs.  I would like to see Skinnner and Watson explain our Jack Russell Terrier’s obsession with rocks and his fear of dog food.  I am not sure there is a Pavlovian bell that can ring loud enough for him.  He’s deaf.

Helping my kids pack their backpacks for the day, I realize that I too need to pack a bag, but a different kind of bag.  Inside my bag I would place a pack of chewing gum, to remind myself to be flexible during my time at graduate school.  I will need to bend around self imposed obstacles on my journey to self awareness.   I will place several of my children’s Lego blocks inside to remind me that I have a responsibility to build community at the grad school.  It will be up to me to help foster relationships and help build bridges to create a supportive community for myself and other students during our graduate experience.  I will place a paintbrush, to remind myself that I am in charge of creating my future, and that it should include lots of moments of self care.  I will pack an ice cube tray to remind myself to relax, to “chill” out when I take things too seriously and lose sight of the celebration of knowledge under the weight of exams and papers.  I will pack an unsharpened pencil to remind myself of the potential that exists as I progress through classes. The last thing I will pack is a mirror, great for those moments when my reflection will need to show grace and humility that I am a student willing to learn from my mistakes, and to catch the reflections of all those people standing behind me who are walking this path with me, supporting me.  These include my family, fellow students, and instructors.  Without their support, I would not be able to take this journey. 

At this very moment as I type on my computer finishing this narrative, my son reminds me that I must have some reading to do.  For a moment I wonder, is he supporting me or just wanting the computer?  I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Holly Shumway is a graduate student in the Community Counseling program. 

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