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Friday, October 30, 2009

Mission Accomplished

For those who have not heard, I finally finished writing my master's thesis in urban studies late last Friday night. While it is only a first draft and must go through several approvals until it is officially accepted by the university, I consider this to be a pretty momentous occasion, in light of the fact that six years ago, I had abandoned all hopes of earning my master's degree and withdrew from school. At that time, I was adjusting to life with a tracheostomy and a ventilator, along with the nursing care that accompanied it. In addition, I had begun taking a bunch of cardiac medications, which made me feel exhausted and unmotivated. In fact, I was so resigned to the fact that I would never earn my master's degree in the field that I love, I referred to my autobiography as "the thesis I never wrote."

Today, I am taking even more medications and battling fatigue -- and anxiety (caused by my cardiac scare over the summer). However, after my autobiography was published last year and I was still alive and kicking, I had decided to revisit completing my degree. Thankfully, the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University welcomed me back with open arms and gave me the chance to do so. I also had many people motivating me, particularly my friends, Art and Emma, who each, in their own way, helped me to realize that finishing my degree would be a worthwhile endeavor.

In case you were wondering, my thesis is about housing accessibility for those with disabilities in Philadelphia. My research entailed interviewing several housing developers working in the city to find out their opinions on housing accessibility requirements under the law, as well as to learn about their attitudes toward and knowledge of people with disabilities. My hope is that by talking to these developers, advocates for those with disabilities will be better able to understand the development process and can bring about a better housing situation for people with disabilities in Philadelphia, more than a quarter of whom live in poverty and many of whom are aging.

I will post further news about my thesis as soon as I hear more about it, but I will most likely be graduating in January!