We asked graduates to share their journey to graduation. Here is what Sara Kostandy (Communication Management) had to say in her own words…
Deciding to resign from a prestigious multinational organization was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. Although I had a successful track record in project management, with several client recognitions, I had a stronger thirst for something else. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. However, within a short timeframe of working within the learning and knowledge function, I discovered my passion in helping and developing people. I soon realized that the limited scope of my work was not sufficient. I wanted to take a deep dive into the sea of organizational and people development.
Based out of Dubai (in the UAE) my options were scarce, and so I decided to explore online programs. My passion and research led me to the master’s program here at the University of Denver. The program combined organizational development, with learning and training, within the context of professional communication. It was the perfect combination I was looking for. However, it was my first experience with online education. I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone warned me that I had to make sacrifices. Many others shared stories of those who started but never completed. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had my head set to get it done.
The truth is, it was very challenging journey. I had to juggle between being a wife, a daughter, a sister, a church servant, and a freelancer. It was taken to a whole new level of testing with the passing away of both my father and my father-in-law. The meaning of those roles I had to play became much bigger than I had ever expected; much bigger than I had ever experienced or known before. There were times when I felt I couldn’t carry on. I wanted to take a break from the program, and just focus on the bigger issues going on in my life. However, the grace of God was abundant, extending the limits of my abilities in ways I hadn’t known before.
I was also blessed with the most supportive environment. My husband was incredibly accommodating. During those never-ending days, when I fell in the middle of a hurricane of commitments, he would stand close to me like a sturdy rock to support me. He offered me all the help me he could, sometimes just staying up next to me all night while I tried to catch up. He would look me in the eyes and say, “I believe in you.” Those four simple words had the miraculous effect of lifting me up every time.
My mother and mother-in-law were going through a challenging time. Yet, that didn’t stop them from checking on me every day to make sure I didn’t need anything, and without asking supported me with their continuous prayers. I’m forever grateful to them. My brother, and brother-in-law, my sisters and sister-in-law were also part of my support network with all of the love they showered me with.
Anything I’ve accomplished or reached today is because of God’s grace in my life through the wonderful people He’s blessed me with. I’m obliged to dedicate the success of my graduation to Him and to my wonderful family. I’m ecstatic that my husband, my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law could be with me on this special day. In spite of my hesitation, it was my husband who encouraged me to take what is close to a 20-hour flight to attend the commencement.
My prayer today is to use this gift of education to support other people in the same way that I’ve been supported through this amazing journey.