Back to School: From “No, I can’t” to “Yes, I can”

Back to School: From “No, I can’t” to “Yes, I can”

Graduate Year: 2016

It’s the late 80s, and I want to go back for my graduate degree. I’m thinking I’ll go back to my alma mater, American University’s School of International Service. But I find a “real” job in a different field and begin to make “real” money. Graduate school, meh.

It’s the late 90s, and I want to go back to school. But no, I can’t take the time. I am freelancing, writing government proposals for large companies. I realize I’m just not cut out for 9-5, office politics, or clawing my way to the top. I work hard at developing my growing client list.

It’s 2005, and I want to go back to school. But no, I can’t. I have two babies at home, have been in and out of Corporate America, and am running my own small business.

It’s 2011, and I want to go back to school. But no, I can’t. Syria, homeland of my parents, explodes in a revolution for freedom. I jump in to support it, abandoning family, work, career, and any notion of school. I become a spokesperson for one activist group, then another, and yet another. I write articles, opinion pieces, and book chapters on the revolution. I participate in public debates and start a nonprofit organization. I get involved in women’s groups, peace groups, protest groups, and social media groups. I don’t have time for graduate school.

It’s 2016, and I want to go back to school. This has been a dream deferred for nearly 30 years! It’s time – as Nike would say – to Just Do It. I stop thinking about the reasons I don’t have time and come up with the reasons to make the time.

I apply to American University’s Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program. It’s the best I’ve found in terms of quality, depth, and prestige. Within days, an advisor contacts me. Within weeks, paperwork completed, I get my welcome letter. YES!

It’s still 2016, and I am now a candidate for a Masters in Strategic Communication in AU’s online program. Because I have stopped making excuses. Because I finally have that moment of clarity: if I don’t do this now, I will have to look back on another decade of “no, I can’t.”

It’s 2016. I log in to the program’s online platform, Engage, nearly every day to interact with professors and fellow students. Some of them are probably half my age. But all of them teach me something new, every day. The class discussions keep me engaged; the course materials keep me wanting to learn more. The work is often challenging, sometimes outright difficult. This program is not for the lazy or disinterested. But the online environment is positive and supportive, and the program is flexible enough that I can juggle my other life commitments.

It’s 2016. Yes, I can.

To learn more about American University's online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, request more information or call toll free at 855-725-7614.

  • About the Author

    Rafif Jouejati

    Rafif Jouejati is the CEO of a small company that provides management consulting services to government and commercial clients. In 2011, Rafif joined the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime and formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting education, human rights, and women’s equality in Syria. She writes and speaks regularly on Syria’s political situation, feminism, and the need for empowerment. She is @RafifJ on Twitter.