- Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons - http://ericsammons.com/blog -
My 17 and 1/2 year Master’s Degree
Posted By Eric Sammons On April 29, 2011 @ 4:44 pm In Miscellaneous | Comments Disabled
Back in January 1994 I entered the M.A. in Theology program at Franciscan University of Steubenville . I was six months out of college, having gotten a B.S. in Systems Analysis at Miami University (Ohio). After a brief stint in a pro-life organization, I decided to return to school in a subject that I loved – theology. Little did I know that it would take me over seventeen years to complete the program.
Because my undergrad was unrelated to theology, I had to take almost all the prerequisites for the program. This meant taking six undergrad theology classes. For the next year and a half, I took these classes, along with four graduate foundations classes. During this time, I was the consummate bookworm. I often meet people today who attended Franciscan during the time I was there, but I neither remember them nor do they remember me. I literally had my head in a book more than 10 hours a day. Each day would run something like this:
During this time I also became engaged (why she wanted to marry such a bookworm was beyond me). Needless to say, we didn’t go out much. But by Spring of 1995, I had run out of money and I didn’t want to get married and immediately get into wads of debt. So I made the hard decision to stop the program, still needing eight grad classes to finish. I moved to Maryland and got a computer programming job and hoped that it would be a minor pit stop before returning to the program.
And after two years, it appeared that I would go back to school. I got a job at a small (i.e. one-person) Internet company (before many knew what exactly the Internet was), and was allowed to move back to Steubenville and try to complete my degree while working from home. However, this was late 1997, right before the great Internet boom. The company I worked for went from 2 employees to 300 in less than two years, and I soon was managing a staff of 100 in Steubenville. Not surprisingly, I didn’t ever find time to actually take a class. After three years, I had given up my dream of a Master’s degree and decided to transfer back to the company’s headquarters in Maryland. However, things didn’t work out and I left the company to start my own software development company a few months later. Also, my wife and I continued to be blessed with children, which of course re-arranges one’s priorities very quickly.
During this whole time, however, I never lost my love of theology. I continued to read theological books in my free time, from authors such as Congar, de Lubac, von Balthasar, and Ratzinger. My time at Franciscan had introduced me to a whole world of brilliant theological minds which I couldn’t get enough of. I was especially thankful for Dr. Scott Hahn’s reading lists, which listed authors I had never heard of but were great thinkers and theologians.
I continued to work at my software company, but it always nagged at me that I had not completed my Master’s degree. I hate starting something and not finishing it. Then I discovered that I could take classes via distance education from Franciscan, and would not have to take any on campus since I had already taken all my foundational courses there. In 2007, although it had been over ten years since I left the program, I got special permission to start back up. So I began to take classes in my free time from home. For the next four years, I took my eight remaining classes (while writing two books). Finally, last Fall I finished my last class, and then took my comprehensive exams a few weeks ago.
Just today, I found out that I passed my comprehensive exams and completed my degree! I plan to go out to the graduation ceremony in May (ironically, the speaker at my graduation happens to be U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry, who was in the program with me in the mid-90′s [we even worked in the computer lab together]). How many people have their graduation speakers be someone they were in the program with?
I don’t usually write about my personal achievements on this blog, but I am very happy to have completed this degree so many years after beginning it and I wanted to share it with others. Praise be to God for giving me this wonderful opportunity!
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2011/04/29/my-17-and-12-year-masters-degree/
URLs in this post:
 Franciscan University of Steubenville: http://franciscan.edu/
 subscribe to my RSS feed: http://ericsammons.com/blog/feed/
Copyright © 2010 Divine Life - A Blog by Eric Sammons. All rights reserved.