When I was an undergraduate student in the college at the University of Chicago I worked; I worked a lot. I worked multiple jobs to ease the guilt I felt over my family suffering financial hardships that were exacerbated by the price tag of my education. In addition, I finished college in three years to help save money, but I left college feeling miserable about my experience and myself. I didn’t even walk and opted to have my diploma mailed to me.
I hadn’t really put school first. I crammed studying in after shifts, in between club meetings or not at all. Sometimes that happened with class, especially Friday classes, because in order to make my shift my 10:30 class needed to be sacrificed. I had however, perfected writing 10-page papers in 5 hours (once even in German), perfected wearing all black and the latest eye make-up trend (I worked as a make-up artist) and perfected the best routes out to any number of suburbs I never care to know existed in Chicago. When it was all said and done, I wished I had taken advantage of internship opportunities, networking events and study abroad opportunities, but I didn’t. I never felt like I could afford too.
About a year and half after leaving the UofC I started graduate school and I promised myself that this time I was going to make the most of this opportunity, I was going to intern, network, perform research and try and get abroad. My college roommate has interned for the State Department and I has always thought that her experience seemed really interesting and was good platform for exploring my interest in human rights, policy and international law. I applied for an internship for the spring semester. I didn’t get it, but I was determined so I reapplied for the summer. I got feedback from colleagues at my current internship and re-worked my application. I felt good. There was only one small problem. I was pregnant with a May 31 due date. My mind probably went through every scenario of what could/would/should happen and how it all was or wasn’t going to work out.
As the deadline for the application neared closer I couldn’t let go that this was an experience I really wanted. I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen, but I was able to let go of needing to know how and just submit my application. It was important to me and if I got the internship I was going to find a way to make it work. I could have found many excuses, legitimate one’s to not pursue this, but I didn’t. I let got of the how and let the way reveal itself to me.
About a month or a little more into in my second trimester, I got a feeling something wasn’t right with the baby. Because I didn’t have insurance and was a very poor graduate student, who decided to intern this time instead of work her way through school, it took me some time to get a doctor. In fact at this time I hadn’t even had an appointment yet. After calling the emergency room, they got me an emergency appointment with my doctor the next day. It was our first time meeting and the first thing she said to me was, “I am so sorry, we couldn’t find a heartbeat.” She talked medical statistics and possibilities, but I wasn’t listening. After genetic testing, I learned that the baby had Triploidy, a rare genetic chromosomal abnormality that results in 69, rather than 46 chromosomes.
About two weeks later I got an email from Susan in Geneva, Switzerland. She wanted to know if I was still interested in interning with the State Department over the summer at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. I responded immediately, YES. Over the next six weeks I corresponded with the Mission and then I got my official offer letter, it was going to be a paid internship with housing provided for by the Department. I just needed to cover my visa fees, airfare and food. I could make this work and I did. I interned with the political section of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and was part of the U.S. Delegation to the XIV Session of the Human Rights Council. It was during this internship I met two former Presidential Management Fellows (a program I didn’t know about before interning) and decided that this would be my next goal. I became a Presidential Management Fellow in July of 2011 and graduated the program in July of 2013. I’m set to take my FSOT exam on June 17th.
I remember standing in front of the fax machine back in 2009 wondering if I was foolish for wanting to intern with the State Department knowing I was expecting a baby. Maybe I was, but for one of the first and maybe only times in my life I truly let go of the how. I let go and accepted: I am not in control of everything and its ok.
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
Sabrina Delay is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.