It was almost the end of another successful semester. I was sitting by my little desk in the corner of an office shared with the Director of Graduate Admissions, Ms. Heather. I was about five months into my job as the Cognos Report Writer for the Graduate Admissions Office. As I sat by my desk, I began to have a depressing feeling that I couldn’t shake off. My mind drifted and I began to reflect on the semester. My Fall 2009 courses were successful. I had very good grades the entire semester. At the Institutional Research Office where I worked part time, I was becoming an expert with SAS programming and Cognos. My boss even got me to learn a new application – Microsoft Access. He assigned me a project that semester that involved building an Access database that housed Adjunct Staff Funding information for the Provost in the office of Institutional Planning, and a data entry form using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for the Adjunct database. I enjoyed working on this project and was very proud of my work. It had been a very successful semester so far, but I just couldn’t shake off the depressing feeling that day at the Graduate School Office. I was really behind on my school fees. This time, I was starting to loose hope on how I would clear my debt, and raise tuition funds for the following semester. Spring 2010 was going to be my last semester in graduate school. I was so close to the finish line and had come this far, but was at the brink of loosing hope because of my finances. Then an idea came to mind; I wasn’t too excited about the idea, but it somewhat put my mind to rest – I was going to take a break from graduate school for a semester and try to raise money to clear my tuition debt and then return to school in the Fall.

Ms. Heather, the Graduate School Director was knee-deep into her work that day processing graduate admissions applications. She had the kindest heart and was so easy to talk to. “I have to tell her!!” I thought. So, I turned to Ms. Heather, “Please can I talk to you about something? Do you have a moment?” “Absolutely dear! What’s up?” When she saw the concern in my eyes, she knew something was wrong, so she got up, shut the door to the office, pulled her chair close and gave me her full attention. “I don’t think I will be returning next semester. I am owing so much in school fees already and I’m not sure how I will pay my tuition next semester.” I said with tears in my eyes. “Oh dear, come here!” She said as pulled closer and gave me a comforting hug. Then she pulled away and said to me, “Don’t give up. You will be back next semester and you will graduate. Everything will work out somehow, okay?” “Okay!” I said, wiping the tears from my eyes. Her words were comforting, yet, I was still determined to take a semester off.

Few days later, I walked into the Institutional Research office one morning. I peaked into my boss’s office and greeted him. I was just about to head to my desk, but I noticed that something was oddly unusual about my boss’s office. There were a few boxes on the floor and some of the books on one of his book shelves were packed into a box. I was confused and so I made a mental note to ask my co-workers what was going on, and then headed to my desk. Later that day, I got the most unexpected news that left me utterly sad and confused – My boss had accepted a new job in another state and was leaving College of Charleston.This man had been a tremendous blessing to me since I started working at the Institutional Research office. This was when I needed him most. He was going to help me get a job at the college after graduation, but now he was about to leave. Later in the evening, I laid down on the hammock in my balcony at home with a million thoughts on my mind. God why is my boss leaving now? “What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to get a job at the college after graduation?” I asked God. Then, I heard the still small voice of God in my spirit saying, “I can use anyone to help you. Put all you trust in me and not man.” I repented immediately for having more faith in a person’s ability to help me more than God.

Prior to the end of the semester, during my devotion one day, the Lord spoke to me regarding the year 2010. He told me that 2010 was going to be My Year of Great Manifestations. The Lord said that in 2010, I would be overwhelmed by a series of events, one after the other. The blessings, favor, and breakthroughs would seem endless because just when I thought the greatest thing has happened, something greater would pop up. The Lord also said that in 2010, I would be in constant celebration. I wrote these down on my prayer journal. Soon, the Fall 2009 semester came to an end, and I returned to Columbia for the Christmas holidays. The new year arrived and by the second week, school was back in session for the Spring 2010 semester. I was reluctant to return to school due to my financial issues. I was still contemplating taking the semester off. I missed the first week of school and the two offices I worked for became concerned. The Acting Director of Institutional Research reached out to me the second week of school to enquire about why I had not returned to school and I told her that I was contemplating taking the semester off for financial reasons. She told me she would see how she could help. The Acting Director scheduled a meeting with the staff of both the Graduate Admissions office, and the Institutional Research office – both offices I worked for. They brainstormed on ways they could raise funds for me so that I could return and complete my graduate program. Several people in both offices promised to pay some amount towards my tuition debt. They even reached out to people in other administrative offices who also agreed to help me. Several people went to the financial services office and made payments towards my school fees. The Provost whom I created the Adjunct Faculty Funding Database for contributed $2,000 upon hearing about my situation and that I was the person who created the database and data entry form for her office. When I received the phone call about the overwhelming show of love and support, I was moved to tears and was so grateful. “Come back to campus Sana! We’ve settled your debt,” my new boss said.

To be continued…