As I finished the first semester of my EMBA program at the Carlson School of Management, I felt like I was between two worlds: the nonprofit world that I knew, and the business world that I was learning. I was aware of my surroundings, finding similarities and identifying tensions, and wondering where I fit in.
I found it helpful to visualize my learning journey as a bridge.
I know where I started, at one end of the bridge with experience in nonprofits, governance and public policy. The fellowship and business school provided me an on-ramp, and got me started, but the rest of the journey is up to me, and it’s more than school.
In fact, the fellowship has been more imaginative and reflective than I expected. School is school, and it’s helping me learn new things and think in new ways, but what’s really been transformative in the fellowship is the opportunity to imagine myself in new ways.
I imagine myself on the bridge, building it as I cross it.
I feel active. I’m making a series of decisions, big and small, that keep me moving forward. The Bush Fellowship wasn’t a past decision; it’s a current decision, and I’ll keep deciding for at least another year. Many choices lay ahead of me.
My fellowship is a bridge, and Harper Lee is my hero.
I’ve always admired Harper Lee as a writer. I love To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it every year. I love the vocabulary, images and friendships she creates in Maycomb County. And I’m fascinated by Lee’s life, her friendship with Truman Capote, her sister, her reclusive instincts and the fact that she never wrote another book. What kept her from publishing again? Did Scout really grow up to be Boo Radley?
I wasn’t sure how to react to the news that she has a new book coming out.
To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, and now, 55 years later, she’s publishing her second book, Go Set a Watchman. But it’s really her first book, the original story that Harper Lee submitted to her editors before To Kill a Mockingbird. So, it’s first, and it’s second, and some controversy exists to whether she wants it to be published or whether she’s being coerced into it.
I don’t have any intimate knowledge of her mental state to be able to definitively answer that question. But I know what I want to believe. I know what inspires me.
I believe that Harper Lee is brave. She’s choosing to publish again, to share more of herself and her stories, to take a risk, to be public, and to be brave.
Right now, as I stand on the bridge of my fellowship, considering the decisions and destinations before me, I see my chance to be brave, too.