Life Stuff

Options, Choices, Decisions…Iowa Stubborn

Over the past several months, I’ve been trying to decide what to do after graduation. Just getting married and experiencing one of the most exciting times of my (slash our) life is apparently not enough for me. I have to make life more challenging than it already is…

I applied to four Music Therapy master’s programs in the fall and have been waiting to hear back from them this spring. I got my first acceptance letter from Radford University, about a month later I got accepted to Illinois State, a week or so later I got accepted to Colorado State and finally I got accepted to Iowa.

In the meantime, a job at the University of TN opened up. It was the first year coordinator position which turned out to be pretty much exactly what I was doing at Maryville College for the past four years. So on a whim, I decided to apply as a backup plan in case I didn’t get any financial aid money from the graduate programs.

The day we before Boone and I got married, I received an offer from Illinois State — full-tuition out-of-state waiver and a part-time stipend working in the school of music office. I felt really blessed because I hit it off with the professors at ISU right away and was honored to receive a full-tuition waiver. A week or so passed and I hadn’t heard from any of the other schools so I decided to check in since I had a deadline to decide with ISU.

I received an email from Colorado State about a week and a half ago saying they had a financial aid offer for me. I opened the email, logged onto their website only to find that they had only offered me loans. A lot of loans. With ISU’s offer already on the table, I politely declined their offer.

As I was waiting to hear from the other two programs, I was invited to do a phone interview for the job at UTK. I was beyond excited about the possibility so I took the chance and set up a time for the interview for last Wednesday. The same day, only about an hour after the interview, UTK called back and invited me to an on-campus interview that Monday.

From the time that I interviewed on Wednesday to before my interview on Monday, Iowa also sent me an offer. Their original offer was only $5,000 a year. Because I had the ISU offer and UTK offer on the table, I sent an email back declining their offer and expressing my gratitude. About an hour later, I got an email back saying there might be another option. By the end of the day, I had a full-tuition research assistantship, stipend, and health insurance offer from Iowa also on the table.

Monday rolled around (which I haven’t mentioned but Monday was my deadline to accept/decline ISU’s offer) and I didn’t want to decline them. The professors at ISU were trying to find more money but they didn’t have anything more available. My interview with UTK went pretty well and I felt really good about it.

Tuesday came. UTK called with a great offer but I also had two other offers on the table. I thought, talked, discussed, cried, and prayed some more about what to do and I decided, as heart-breaking as it was, to call ISU and let them know that I wouldn’t be attending in the fall. So now I only had two offers on the table. And the more I discussed each offer with different people, the more it seemed like staying in Knoxville was the way to go. Everyone seemed to think that staying here and expanding the relationships that we’ve already built was the best choice. And I had to agree with them on a lot of levels. It would be great to be financially stable for the first three years of marriage. But…I’d be sitting behind a desk doing the same job that I have done for the past four years, just for a different institution. As I was weighing the two options, I started asking myself the questions “why do I love being in Knoxville?” and “why would I want to stay here?” to see if that would clear anything up for me. The main reason I’m so happy being in Knoxville is because I get to work with an amazing a cappella group, I have a beautiful church family that I am blessed to work with every week, and we are close to our family. Two of the three of those things would change (or so I thought…) if I stayed in Knoxville. But then, other opportunities started opening up for me as well! I could still work with reVOLution (in a different vein but would still be connected to them) and I would still have the opportunity to stay at Church Street. Of course this made the decision much more difficult. The main reasons I justified leaving were now possibilities if I stayed.

It all came down to this: I would not be happy sitting behind a desk all week long. Yes, I would love to work at Church Street. And yes, I would love to stay connected with reVOLution. But those activities would not be the main parts of my life, they would be what I “did on the side.” And the more I thought about it, the more I dreaded it…

Wednesday morning when I woke up, my head said “Emily, you should stay in Knoxville. There is a lot of stability here.” By Wednesday night, my heart took over and told me that I really needed to go to Iowa. My logical brain knows that staying in Knoxville would be beneficial in a lot of ways, but my heart says to listen to it. And Boone and I decided, if ever there is a time for us to go and do something…now is the time! We don’t have kids, we don’t have any real “ties” to Knoxville. And the longer we stay, the deeper our roots will be planted here.

My deadline to accept/decline the UTK offer was Thursday 4.18.13 at noon. At 11:50am, I called and declined the offer. The second I got off the phone, I felt at peace. Boone felt at peace. And we both are excited about our new adventure to Iowa!


I hope that if we so choose to come back to Knoxville, our friends and family will welcome us with open arms! We will miss everyone here and it is very sad to leave a place that we have both called “home” for so long. But, as my best pal David says, “it’s all about the story!”

Iowa, here we come!

Until next time, fellow BFs!


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