Long overdue life update

Jun 15, 2017 | 4 comments

Grad life

Grad life

I think the fact that I haven’t updated my blog in 6 months is plenty enough evidence that this final leg of graduate school has consumed every last ounce of being. I have tried to start a new post several times, but the scattered pieces of my obligations are always calling for attention and I find myself dragged off before I can ever fully finish a thought. So here we are again. Let’s see if I can actually finish this one.

A few highlights from the past 6 months:

  • I participated in a lot of protests.
  • I did some union organizing.
  • It rained a lot.
  • I played in the snow a little bit.
  • I taught my own undergraduate class.
  • It rained a lot.
  • I worked a lot.
  • I had some existential crises.
  • I cut off 12 inches of my hair and donated it.
  • Did I mention it rained a lot?

This weekend, I am graduating. It seems like it should be a big deal, but my excitement is tampered by the fact that I’m not actually defending my thesis project until late July, so I won’t officially have my Master of Science degree until I successfully pass the defense. I still have so much work to do to get it done — hundreds of hours more of reading, writing, editing, and designing. Graduation feels more like a ceremonial way to say “goodbye” and “we did it!” with my cohort than any sort of grand finale, but I’m okay with that.

Once I finish this summer, I will be the first woman in my family to earn a master’s degree, on top of being the first to earn a bachelor’s back in 2012.  I never would have seen myself in this position even just a few years ago, and now here I am living a life I never even imagined (and I have a pretty wild imagination!).


Image from createaction.org

On top of this, I also managed to land myself a job in my desired field. Starting next week, I will be the new Communications Coordinator for CREATE!, the Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology for the Environment.  It’s a local non-profit organization that uses a participatory approach to work with rural villages in Senegal that are coping with water, food and fuel shortages resulting from the impacts of climate change on their communities. I could not be more thrilled to be joining the team! And this, of course, means I get to stick around Oregon now too, which was exactly what I had been hoping for, as I fall further in love with this state.

Image result for antarctica

Image from Wikipedia

As if all this isn’t enough, I also have a third ‘job’ to keep me on my toes. In addition to finishing my thesis and working for CREATE!, I will also be spending the summer conducting research on the social dimensions of ice and climate change in Antarctica. I am equally stoked about this, since I have been obsessed with Antarctica for as long as I can remember. I am deeply grateful for my adviser who opened the door for me on this one and helped to make it a reality. A few folks have asked if I’m actually going to Antarctica — the answer is no, not for this position, but hopefully and perhaps one day soon. 🙂

So for all of you who have ever felt at times that your life is stagnating, or you’re not quite where you want to be, I say to you this: Keep working at it. Keep carving. Keep sculpting. Keep painting your picture, keep singing your song, keep dancing your dance, keep writing your story. Keep dreaming your dreams, and tell the world what those dreams are.

I have so many stories I want to tell from these last few months, but I think those will have to wait for another day. Stay tuned for more updates soon on my master’s project (including a sneak preview of the first film installation!) and summer endeavors. Stay strong, my friends!



  1. amwillingham

    Thanks Janet! I’m glad I like Oregon too — and it’s fun to know you’re only one state away! 🙂

  2. amwillingham

    Thank you Firefly! <3 That means a lot!

  3. Janet

    Congrats on everything, glad you like Oregon. I knew you when!!!

  4. katiejaynek

    Wow, just wow! All of these things sound so amazing kestrel! I am so happy for you and proud of you! You are simply amazing!

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