I was lounging on the sofa when our dog, Annabelle, alerted me to the mail truck's arrival with her persistent barks. I had been waiting each day with anticipation, to no avail. However, I had an inkling that today's mail might be it. I grabbed the key to our mail box which is located conveniently just outside our apartment door. I ventured out into the frosty air, trying to hurriedly turn the key in its stubborn lock. And then....I saw our typical newspaper ad junk mail. I started to feel the disappointment as I re locked the box, but then I opened the newspaper ads and glanced down. My heart skipped a beat. There it was---the name and logo of the school I had applied to.
I rushed inside and grabbed the letter opener. The envelope was rather thick and I could tell it contained several pages. Thinking to myself this was a good sign, I stopped and took a deep breath. I took out the pages and read the words, letting them sink in: Dear Deanne, Your Application to Wheaton College Graduate School has been reviewed, and you have been granted admission to the Master of Arts in Biblical Archaeology. Let me be the first to offer congratulations and welcome you to our Graduate School Family. I reached my hand up to the sky, saying "Thank you, God!" over and over again while a few small tears gathered and ran down my cheeks. I jumped up and down in the air a few times and rushed off to call Matt at work with the happy news.
This was a pivotal moment in my life, one I will never forget. I have long dreamt of becoming an archaeologist--a dream I have verbalized since early high school. I have always known that I would end up in a non-traditional career. My heart has always firmly rejected the idea of a mundane office job. Of course, as a kid I loved watching the Indiana Jones movies. But I knew that wasn't real archaeology. I learned about real archaeology from books and programs on the History or Discovery Channels.
It was quite the simple conclusion to the question high school students begin to ponder. It goes beyond the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" of our elementary school days to the more developed "What career path will I chose?" I had always loved history and in high school I discovered my passion for languages. And after traveling to Europe for the first time at age fourteen, I knew I had to travel as much and as far as I possibly could for the rest of my life. So in asking myself what career could incorporate history, languages, and lots of travel, archaeology was a stand out. Of course there are other careers that can incorporate such things, but I knew archaeology was the path for me.
Now, a career in archaeology is certainly not your everyday, run-of-the-mill kind of job, and the road leading me there will most certainly also be unorthodox. In fact, despite those of them who would never say it to me, I know lots, if not most, of my family and friends are thinking, "Deanne, get real...." But seriously! For those of you who know me best, ask yourselves, when have you truly ever known ME to be realistic? (ah, you see my point now, don't you!?!)
I had actually considered applying to Wheaton College for their undergraduate program in Biblical Archaeology. But I knew Anderson University was the place for me, so I began with the intent of double majoring in history and German. German was the language I had studied all through high school. To my dismay, however, the semester I began at Anderson, the school eliminated the German major and minor. They didn't have enough students choosing the German major/minor and were therefore losing money on it. They still offered some German courses, though. Great. I still wanted a foreign language major and my options were now limited to either French or Spanish. I had taken one year of each in high school (simply because I love languages!) and this helped me to choose French. French was slightly more natural to me and of course the romantic in me was drawn to it.
My ultimate goal in regards to archaeology has always been to obtain a PhD. I planned on taking a few years off from school after I finished my undergrad to gain work experience and financial independence. AU only offered one "archaeology" course and I had many discussions with this professor about my intent to study archaeology. He advised me that those earning a PhD in this field would need to know at least one modern language (of which French and German are most common) and one ancient language such as Greek, Hebrew, or Latin. I was on the right track with my double major in French and history. This past fall, I volunteered on an archaeological dig in Michigan for Native American Indian artifacts. I needed to do that---to go "in the field"---before I really plunged forward with my ambitions. It was exactly what I thought it would be and exactly what I hoped it would be.
Many years of dreams led up to the moment when I received my acceptance letter to Wheaton. I had only applied to one school: Wheaton College. In my restlessness of where to apply for graduate school, I felt God gently lead my heart and mind to Wheaton. It was all or nothing. With the acceptance, I felt an excitement within me that is indescribable. I held in my hands the key to the real beginning of my future in archaeology. The realization of my dream.
Matt and I have made the decision that I should defer my admission to Wheaton and begin in the Summer of 2010. It's difficult to think of postponing it, but we know it's the right decision. Going to school at Wheaton will be extremely expensive and we need to spend this next year working and saving money. I can wait. After all, it's only one year!
The program at Wheaton is a two-year program. It begins in the summer with a six week dig in Ashkelon, Israel. I will then study at Jerusalem University College from the end of August to the beginning of December. My tuition to Jerusalem University College pays for a very long list of excursions, taking us all around the Holy Land and even all the way to Egypt! Egypt is #1 on my list of places in the world I want to visit, so I am ecstatic! During my two years at Wheaton, I'll be taking courses in ancient Greek and will have to pass a proficiency exam before I graduate. Since I plan on continuing on to doctoral studies, I will also write a MA thesis.
The final piece in my archaeology puzzle has been put into place. Strictly speaking, one cannot really earn a living off of being an archaeologist. Although for many years I had rejected the thought of teaching, I have now decided to teach at the University level. It would allow me to teach my passions and interact with students. Then I could use the summers to go out into the field, which is what many archaeologists do, and spend the rest of my time doing research. God has ultimately blessed me with the greatest tool to my dream: my husband, Matt. I am fortunate enough that I married a man who believes in my dreams with me. I could not do any of it without his support. In every way imaginable, Matt is the greatest blessing in my life.
I still have a long road ahead of me. But the door to my dreams has been opened. And though I may not start my journey until a little over one year's time from now, I know the journey is there. The road is calling me....and I have no choice but to follow my heart.