New Years Letter

So, I didn’t get my Christmas letters sent out in time… Oh wait, I never send out Christmas letters. 🙂 Still, I thought this year would be a good year to start letting you all know a summary what’s been happening in Josiahland — in case you don’t have time to connect the dots between the reams of disjointed information about myself that I spew out to the Internet. Anyway, this has been a year of big changes, both in my professional and private life. My memories really aren’t stored chronologically, so I’ll talk topically.

First, my extracurricular life has recently been much reduced. While I did get to teach two weeks of a summer day camp on Lego Robotics at the Orpheum children’s musuem and kept up my classroom volunteer work at Central High over the summer, my community work has been quite sporadic this past semester, and I wasn’t able to do any classroom tutoring (mostly due to the additional time constraints associated with qualifying exam study). 🙁 Also, due to my ankle injury in September (had my final surgery yesterday, and will be walking in a cast by next week, independently in several more months! 🙂 ), I was only able to work about two weeks at my job as an interviewer for the EPI, near the end of the semester.

Second, I’ve decided to make this upcoming semester at Illinois my last one. I’ll be switching from a Ph.D. to an M.S., and am picking up that degree before I head back to Iowa in Fall, 2014 to continue the work I started during my Master’s study there. In a sentence, I love the people I’ve gotten to know here, but I’m switching trajectories from “faculty/industry researcher in power electronics” to “teaching faculty in engineering.” The story leading up to this is long, and fraught with potential semantic pitfalls that I can more easily avoid if I’m talking with you face-to-face. 🙂 Suffice it to say, I believe this decision not only to be the most direct path to a happy and fulfilling career, but also to be a path that I can walk without putting the rest of my life on hold for four more years. Admittedly, the logic does make the most sense when spiritual factors are considered, but I also think the decision stands to reason from a secular point of view as well.

Third, there several pretty big personal things that had been brewing for some time, and finally came to the surface this year. Several of these are really good things, some are really unfortunate, but all are complicated enough that I’d rather not try to explain them to the casual reader. Just ask, and, depending on the context, you shall receive all the TMI you desire. 😉 One thing I will say is that my relationship with God is more personal than it’s been in years. Unfortunately that’s not saying much, but I really do appreciate the renewed sense of reality He’s been giving to my faith.

The upcoming semester/summer is going to be a busy one: Part-time teaching applications have to be in next week. A conference paper is due in January (I’m almost done with that, thank goodness!). I need to learn to walk again at some point. 😉 Quite a bit of administrative red tape has to be sorted through in order to transfer degrees, fellowships, and admission. Two classes and a thesis (to fulfill the M.S. req’s) have to be completed by May. A journal paper for my Illinois advisor and a grant proposal for my Iowa advisor both need to be finished by the end of summer. I probably won’t have time to commit to regular volunteering this semester, but I’ll be continuing my EPI work and will get to teach another robotics camp in the summer! Despite the busyness, though, I’m definitely feeling up to the task. I think I’m slowly getting over that “race to finish first” mentality that I had in college, and am learning to enjoy life’s journey, taking things one day at a time. I’m excited to see what the new year holds, and walking that path alongside yours! 🙂

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