Monday, August 1, 2011

My First Ten Days

I have had the opportunity to have a life changing experience happen to me, but at the last minute, that life changing experience was pushed away for another one. My family and I were packing our house, put it on the market, and were getting ready to move to Denver, CO, so I could attend Regis University. It is an amazing school that made me feel welcomed and accepted with many programs based on the Jesuit tradition, but their pharmacy program has yet to have a graduating class (but they will soon enough). And, we would all have to move to Denver, and our girls are well established in their schools, school programs, and their dance classes. Saturday July 23rd was our big day to pack boxes, empty rooms, and clean the garage. But, Friday morning I received a call from Shane at Creighton University telling me that I was taken from the alternate pool and accepted in their distant program. That means I have to travel to Omaha, NE, for two weeks each year, but I get to take my classes online from home. After we talked and he congratulated me (and I ensured him that I would make it to Omaha, NE, by Monday morning), he put me on the phone with Mackenzie (Director of Admissions), and explained everything that I needed to do before Monday (and I ensured her that I would make it to Omaha, NE, by Monday morning). They were both so welcoming and excited for me, that getting accepted was almost the second best feeling I had (almost). I was also given personal cell phone numbers so I could call and text questions or concerns throughout the weekend.

So, what does this mean? I found out Friday morning and approximately 12 hours later, I was in my minivan (no more bug driving across the country this time - see this), and 2 days later (27 hours of driving), I was standing on Creighton's campus - soaking in all the sun and the heat and the humidity. So I found AC as fast as I could, because I came from overcast and 65 degrees. By the time I got on campus, I had a room and a roommate ready for me.

When Monday morning rolled around, I had a name tag (not as cool as the one I now have but they had one for me), a binder with all the information I needed for the two weeks, and lots of peopled happy to see me. Mackenzie came over to me and congratulated me again and helped me with any questions I had. I have had interviews at three different pharmacy schools and have visited three others, and none of them compare (well, Regis was close) to the acceptance and warmth you feel when you walk into Welcome Week (or the interviews for that matter). During Welcome Week, we heard from all the different people that it takes to make the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (SPAHP) run smoothly. One group that we met was OASA (Office of Accedemic and Student Affairs), and if you're super nice (OK, even if you're not super), they will give you one of their little Blue Dudes. I'm super, super nice, so they gave me two.

We also heard from our Chaplin, and she is an amazing lady. I was able to talk with her one-on-one about our girls and some of the lingering problems from their prematurity they have, and she was so supportive and wonderful about the whole situation. She talked with the whole group about the Jesuit belief and the Ignation Values the SPAHP has adapted:

  • Finding God in All Things

  • Cura Personalis - Care for the whole person

  • Magis - More or the greater good

  • Men and Women For and With Others

  • Faith That Does Justice
On Wednesday, we took these Ignation Values taught us and used them in our Service Project. My group volunteered at the Open Door Mission, and I had the most amazing day. The people I volunteered with are amazing people from all over the country, and the people at the Open Door Mission have done so much good for the community of Omaha, NE, and breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Later that day, we had our professionalism ceremony at St. John's Church on Creighton's campus, and it is absolutely beautiful! And here is another amazing act displayed by the staff at Creighton to make me feel welcomed. All the programs for the professionalism ceremony were printed before I was accepted (so my name wasn't on them), but to make me feel part of the group, they added my name and printed two copies just for me. It may seem like a small act, but what an amazing gesture to welcome someone that was just accepted five days prior. Here is a picture of St. John's Church.

One of my classmates found a live camera feed that looks down onto the foutain and steps of the church, so I emailed that to Allison, and she, the girls, her parents, and my nephew watched as I walked in and as we got a class picture after we got our white coats.

I'm in the second row from the bottom, third from the left.

Anyway, that was just my first five days after getting that phone call from Shane on Friday morning. Thursday and Friday we had more welcome week stuff including more training from OLAT on our computers (tablets), reflections with our chaplin, and Shawn and Dr. Padilla made Welcome Week fun, interesting, and accepting. I had met all the staff and faculty by the end of the week, and by Tuesday, I was known as the guy that was called Friday and drove 27 hours to get to campus, but by Friday, I was known as Gregg. I couldn't think of a better name to call what I experience than by its name: Welcome Week.

Saturday, I had CPR, caught a movie, and met and got to know more of my classmates. Sunday was a lazy day of laying around and trying to prepare my mind for a week of labs. And here we are on Monday. What a day! First day of labs was great! I got to sit with four of my classmates at a lab table, balance a... well balance, and weigh and compound a simple (fake) medication. The second half of lab was acting like a pharmacist! We got to transfer a prescription, take prescriptions off of a voicemail, and fill a couple of prescriptions.

As I put off dinner for a few more minutes, I just need to realize that, although I am away from my family right now, I will be home soon and we do not need to move to another state, find new schools for the girls, and a new job for Allison. If I were to review the Ignation Values and see if they apply to my situation, they all do!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Creighton University Here I Come!

Ok, so I haven't posted in a while, but life has been stressful! The kind of stress where you pull out your hair, gain or loose so much weight it's unhealthy, spend sleepless nights watching stupid infomercials cause there is nothing else on and you've seen everything on On-Demand, and where everything everybody says just rubs you the wrong way for no reason at all. Yeah, I've had that kind of stress. First, let's review: Last year I was wait-listed at Creighton University but was first on the list, and I was told that every year somebody drops out. Guess what, nobody did. So I had to wait another year, apply to several colleges again, and wait for interviews. I applied to University of Arizona (wait-listed), Regis University (accepted), and Creighton University (wait-listed). So we were praying that I would get into Creighton because it is an online program, and we could stay at home, the kids could stay in their schools, and we wouldn't have to move. We waited to hear from Creighton about the wait-list. And waited... So I called and asked questions, and I called and reminded them why I would be a good choice, and I called to tell them to pick me! Anyway, to make a long story short, I was somewhere around the eighth person on the wait-list (no chance right). We put our house on the market, we cleaned out all the stuff that cluttered the house, and we started packing. The week before Welcome Week at Creighton I called again, and I was told on Tuesday, "There is not much of a chance for you to be picked off the wait-list. If I were you, I would plan on moving to Denver and go to the school that accepted you." The comment wasn't cold or malicious, it was said so I wouldn't have any false hopes about getting in. I mean, look what happened last year, so why did I think I would ever get in.

Then I started saying and texting a two-word phrase to my wife, "Mustard Seed." It comes from Matthew 17:20, and the scripture goes like this: He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." The last time I said that to Allison was when Madison was in the hospital and we didn't think she was going to make it and were planning on taking her off of the ventilator, but we told everybody that we wanted to the night so our pastor could be there. Allison's mom asked me if there was anything we could do, and I simply replied, "Have faith," and continued walking down the hallway. I remember that night talking with Allison, and I said that if having the faith of a mustard seed can move a mountain, it can definitely heal a lung that tiny.

"Mustard Seed"
(Picture courtesy of Joanna Willis's blog:

But I digress. Tuesday I was told I had no hope, so we started kicking it into high gear to prepare our move from Washington state to Colorado. Friday morning I woke up with a full morning of errands and things I needed to get done for Regis, and then I was leaving for work at 11 am. My phone rang sometime between 8:30-9:00 (it's all really a blur now), but I didn't run up the stairs fast enough to answer the phone. Voicemail. Fine, I guess I'll listen to the voicemail now. I did. Then I freaked out! Then I replayed it on speaker for Allison, and she yelled at me, "Call him back you idiot! I don't need to hear the rest of the message!" Basically the message went as followed, "Gregg... Well, I guess I'm a liar, because I told you you had no chance of getting in, but here I am calling you with a one hour deadline to return my call..." (That's when Allison called me an idiot - and rightly so). To make this not so short story not so long, I was in my car about 12 hours later driving the 1,800+ miles from my house to Creighton University in Omaha, NE, for a Welcome Week and a week of labs. So, I am sitting in my living quarters (actually not too bad) waiting for my day to start tomorrow at 7 am local time (I lost 2 hours driving east). I guess amazing things can happen when your faith is measured in a mustard seed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Interview at Creighton University

A sign on one of the buildings on campus

My long awaited invitation for an interview at Creighton University School of Pharmacy was finally sent to me, and, as you all remember last year's trip to and from Omaha, NE, the trip was once again eventful. This year, I traveled to my interview alone, and Allison, Madison, and Emma stayed at home to work and go to school. As of yet, I haven't been pulled over by a police officer 90 miles from my house, but I have had some adventures in South Dakota.
This is when I turned west into South Dakota and started entering a storm

First, I want to talk about my interview and the program at Creighton. I think my interview went very well, and I really enjoyed talking with the two people that interviewed me. I love the program, and it would allow my family and me to stay home because it's online except for two weeks a year.

Second, I'm stuck in Rapid City, SD.
View of Rapid City and maybe all the way to Iowa

The trip was going so well, and I was making great time on my way home. But, the car broke down 180 miles outside of Rapid City, and I called AAA (thank you Jesus that we have 100 miles of free towing). My plan was to be towed to Wall, SD (famous for Wall Drug), find nobody to fix my car, and then get towed to Rapid City. The Tow to Wall was 116 miles, costing me $70 for the extra 16 miles, and then I was towed to Rapid City.
This is the view from my car after an electrical storm passed overhead sending lighting strikes just to the south of me.

The exciting part of this story is, the tow truck driver in Presha, SD, didn't want to drive all the way to Wall, let alone Rapid City, so when AAA got hold of him, he said he didn't want to get into trouble doing a piggy-back tow so he just wasn't showing up. I wanted four hours before AAA got back to me after my many calls to have me clarify. "If somebody in Wall can fix my car, I'm staying in Wall, but if there isn't, I need to be towed to Rapid City." The AAA guy apologized for the delay and called up Mike of Mike's Towing. So after FIVE HOURS, Mike shows up and asks me why Tony (the Presha tow truck driver) didn't pick me up, I explained. He said that he doubted that was the reason cause no more than 100 feet from my location sat Tony.
This became my study area for my current online class

Well, long story short, I made it to Rapid City Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. It is now Tuesday, and my car should be fixed by 5:30 p.m. I have no idea where the rest of this journey will take me, but it would be great to have a phone call waiting for me at home telling me I have been accepted into Creighton. Until then, I want to thank all the people that have helped me through this difficult time, I want to thank my family for being so patient as I slowly make it home, and I want to thank God that I am safe and surrounded by so many people that are willing to help.