Please welcome today’s guest writer, Jacklyn Mae Vander Zee. Jacklyn graduated from Calvin in 2018 with a BA in speech pathology and audiology. She’s currently in grad school at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL and lives at home in Northwest Indiana. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to symphonies by twentieth century American Romantic composers, working at farmers markets in downtown Chicago, and playing trumpet whenever possible.
If you asked me during my final semester at Calvin College how I was doing, I would have forced a tired smile and replied, “You know, the LORD is really teaching me patience right now.”
At that point of my life, I was worn out from taking seventeen to twenty plus credits every semester of undergrad, memorizing pages and pages of notes relating to speech pathology and audiology (SPAUD), and waiting to hear back from graduate programs—the “waiting to hear back from graduate programs” part was responsible for most of the exhaustive stress that had taken over my life. It was a stress that began my senior year of high school in deciding which college to attend. It was a stress that hearkened back to my sophomore year of college, when I lost my early admit status to Calvin’s speech pathology graduate program by a matter of point two percent. It was a stress that stretched back to a year prior, when I came to the realization that I could graduate with my bachelor’s degree in three years, as the result of several providential factors spanning many years.
(A note to those unfamiliar with speech pathology: a master’s degree or higher is required to be a licensed speech-language pathologist. In other words, an undergraduate degree in speech pathology is entirely useless for anything other than getting into grad school.)
So during my sixth and final semester at Calvin, I waited.
and waited to hear back from five graduate programs on the status of my applications. The application process for speech pathology grad school is similar to the Kentucky Derby—nerve-wracking and competitive—and I scoured the Grad Cafe daily for updates on others’ acceptances and rejections, jumped every time my phone vibrated with a notification, and frequently shared my anxiety during Wind Ensemble and orchestra prayer requests.
My first acceptance/rejection letter came from Calvin in mid-February: I received notice that I was on the waitlist. Purdue came next, and being ranked fifth in the nation for speech pathology, they very easily said, “um, no thanks.” Northwestern had a similar reaction (although they were a little more kind about it). Governor’s State, which I had thought would be an easy “in” for me, was also a “no.” At this point, I had begun to lose hope: I knew that I had a slim chance at best of getting accepted off Calvin’s waitlist, and all I’d heard since were rejections. Finally, after spring break, a letter from Saint Xavier was waiting in my mailbox, bearing another waitlist status.
Three rejections, two waitlists. The LORD really had one goal in mind for me those few weeks: “learn patience, Jacklyn.” I received my final Calvin decision mid-April, another rejection. At this point, I began looking into alternate plans for the next year and even considered staying at Calvin for another year to remediate my halfway-decent GPA. I was exhausted and desperate and sick of waiting. I played my final orchestra concert of the year not knowing if it would be the last time I would ever play with some of my best friends; I had no way of knowing if that semester would be the end of my undergraduate career.
Finally, on a Wednesday in the middle of an onstage Wind Ensemble dress rehearsal for our final concert later that week, I received an email from Saint Xavier University notifying me of my acceptance into their speech pathology master’s program. A giddy smile spread over my face and the piece we were rehearsing suddenly seemed all the more triumphant. The CFAC auditorium stars seemed to shine brighter and I bounced in my chair like an energetic three-year-old, physically unable to sit still. As soon as rehearsal was over, I sprinted offstage, answering anyone and everyone’s question of “What’s the rush?” with an excitedly whispered “I GOT INTO GRAD SCHOOL.” Reader, you do not realize the blessing and joy it was to share that news first and foremost with my dear WE family: to have them witness the firstfruits of their unending prayer on my behalf was humbling and a reason for rejoicing all at once.
With two weeks to spare before graduation, I learned in a very concrete way the power of prayer, the trials of learning patience, the difficulty of holding onto hope, and the immensity of God’s grace. That acceptance email changed my life. The LORD worked through a small Catholic university near Chicago, IL to show me that His timing is infinitely better than my own. I have since deepened my passion for speech-language pathology and am increasingly excited to work in a field that I love.
In the seasons of waiting you may face, I pray you may have the strength to trust Him and the timing of His perfect plan.