By Teri Stockton, graduate student in the MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts
My last higher education experience ended in 1992 so I am a returning college student. Last Fall ’09, I was excited, anxious and terrified to begin my first semester in the brand new MFA program: Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts. Finding a graduate program that suited me took a very long time. I began searching, in the mid-90’s, for a program that would fit my artistic and personal eclectic needs and interests: I am a performing and visual artist. I discovered that finding such a program wasn’t going to be an easy task.
I already had years of experience in university academic settings, which did not always serve me, and I wanted something different. I began losing hope that I would find what I was looking for. I was ready to give up when I happened to pick up a copy of the East Bay Express in December 2008. This particular edition was focused on education (which I cringed at because I was sick of looking at wrong fitting school options) so I quickly flipped past the education listings and searched for an article to read. Literally, within seconds of “flipping” the pages, an image flashed in the corner of my eye. The image faded but I paused in a moment of wonder: a “what just happened” feeling nudged me to turn back to the education listings.
What I had skipped over has made me a further believer in synchronicity. It was an information session ad for the new MFA programs at CIIS, in particular the program in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts. The “flash” I had experienced was a partial image of the CIIS logo and the word “Creative." This was all I needed to stop in my tracks and investigate further. I had included CIIS in my long search for a graduate program and I was certain an MFA program was not offered. Where did this program come from? Had I just previously missed it?
When I looked closer, I saw that the ad announced the MFA in Creative Inquiry as a new program. I immediately called the department and booked my spot in that info session. From that point on, my experience with the MFA faculty and staff at CIIS has felt smooth and productive. I definitely feel like I'm “in the right place at the right time."
These first two semesters have been an extraordinary experience, although being in school again has required adjustments. For most of the fall semester I continued to feel anxiety, terror and a new feeling: inadequacy. I persevered, and in this second semester I can feel the ground beneath my feet and my coursework has progressed much easier. I’ve had additional challenges to deal with: I was diagnosed with adult ADD. Navigating this terrain has been confusing and frustrating. I couldn’t count on my brain to behave correctly so I did something out of character for me – I asked for help. I sought assistance through the Dean of Students Office and the MFA office/faculty. The support and guidance I’ve received has been abundant and reassuring.
So, I sing the praises of CIIS, the new MFA programs, the gifts I’ve received from asking for help, the acceptance of synchronicity and trusting “flashes” of insight and direction, all of which I highly recommend considering.