What lies beyond Brandman University?

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A revision of my Critical Reflection on my academic experiences in Brandman University

Click here to read the original essay titled Brandman and Beyond.

Brandman University defines a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Studies as “a degree that is ideal for those who want to build upon their technical and occupational skills.  Its cross-disciplinary curriculum explored multicultural perspectives, sociological change, technological advances and leadership theories to prepare them for success in today’s workforce.”

I’ll be honest, I initially saw it as a less conspicuous Liberal Arts degree, without the stigma attached to it.  It was also the shortest degree that I could complete with the ludicrous amount of college credits I accumulated within 20 years of ultimately not completing one.  Additionally, I subscribed to the belief that a degree, regardless of the major, is almost necessary in the job market due to “degree inflation.” So, I continued to see it that way up until about the last term of my undergraduate life, when I learned three things:

Less and less people are stigmatizing the term “Liberal Arts major” and in fact are actively being sought within the tech industry (although it seems as if the they’ve never heard of “Applied Studies”).

“A jack-of-all-trades is a master of none but oftentimes better than a master of one.” (origin unknown)

My education does not stop with this BA (mainly because I’m going right back into Brandman to get my MBA).

However, the most meaningful thing to ever happen to me on my path to get this degree is having to do all these academic projects and rediscovering the budding creativity I’ve always had and artistic flair I want to cultivate.  While in this degree program, I wrote a sketch comedy script, a short story, and a poem that, even though I was made to do it, I’m glad to have done it and proud of what I made.

My sketch comedy script is titled The Job Interview.  Drawing inspiration from Saturday Night Live and the Upright Citizens Brigade I tried to transform a normal, mundane event into a light-hearted affair.  As a satire, my goal was to put in perspective what is normally one of the most terrifying adult experiences in the modern world as a harmless and sometimes petty power dynamic within the employment relationship.  If anything, it was excellent practice for me to explore the subtleties of interpersonal communication.

Two books solidified my love of fantasy epics.  One was The 12 Labors of Hercules, the first book I read when I was 5 years old, and the other was Magician by Raymond E. Feist which I read in 7th grade.  A Conjuring Conundrumwas a story idea that rolled around in my head for quite some time.  I was fascinated with the “unreliable narrator” after reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, and wanted to tell the simple story of a wannabee wizard who bit off more than he can chew in terms of his “skill.”

One of my most personal literary works is the poem, Post-Military Life.  While the more publicly known cause of PTSD and suicide comes from experiencing the horrors of war, it is not the only one by far.  Trauma is trauma, whether its from working several 14-16 hour shifts or suffering prolonged effects of a toxic workplace.  The most fortunate of us have walked away with both our physical and mental faculties, but the majority range from a spectrum of minor disabilities to full impairment, yet all of us have to find a way to make life work after the service.  This poem echoes that sentiment that, sometimes I feel that my compensation is not commensurate to my sacrifice and dedication.

I’ll admit that the “essay” that preceded this was more style than substance, which is why this is less of a revision than it is a complete redraft.  A majority of my projects in college, while accurate and clever, lacked the heart and passion that I am capable of infusing into whatever I create.  While I wish I had come to this conclusion sooner, I’m glad to have found it relatively early in my scholastic career.  My education in Brandman University started with self-interest, but as it comes to an end it gets closer to one of self-improvement.

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