Coleen Goodson recently completed her Antioch Online BA and delved straight into the low-residency MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media at Antioch Santa Barbara. She took a moment from her busy schedule as a full-time working and family woman to detail her victories this past term and tell us more about how she was invited to be a key speaker at the AU Online Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 5th, 2019 at Antioch University’s Midwest campus.
What made you want to apply to Antioch?
Rod Serling. Since I was a child, I have admired Rod Serling for his ability to convey a story. As an adult, I was impressed by his success as an unconventional, yet principled individual. In 2016 I had reached a pivotal point in my life just when I discovered that he attended Antioch University. At that time, I was 48 and had spent three decades in pursuit of a college degree, one or two classes at a time, while I raised a family, and I was awarded a generous scholarship to a university I had longed to attend. Unfortunately, the scholarship required full-time classroom attendance. My priorities as a full-time working woman and raising my family were in conflict with this wonderful opportunity. Needless to say, I was devastated – until I came across Antioch University’s online degree program. At around the same time, I learned that Rod Serling attended Antioch University. To me, Antioch’s online degree program was a gift from the universe – a perfect alignment that presented a viable solution to my problem.
What was the decision to go online vs campus?
For me, this was a no-brainer. The program offered an opportunity to dedicate myself to my lifetime goal without sacrificing my family-first priorities and it did so without diminishing a lifestyle that the family has become accustomed to.
We met at last semester’s residency in Santa Barbara. What was it like for you coming in and meeting other writers?
Terrifying, initially. It’s so much easier to give and receive feedback online. But, when we come together in the real world, in a classroom setting, real humanity comes into play and we are all better for it. It was incredibly rewarding to actually see and feel the importance of creativity in the writing of others—and to experience encouragement by our peers is a true gift.
It’s really cool you’ve been selected to be the speaker at graduation. Congratulations! How did that happen?
To be honest, I am not exactly sure. I was so focused on the opportunity to finally achieve a degree – and to do so in a way that was sincere. I poured my heart into my goal and did all of the coursework and participated with a genuine appreciation for what I was learning. I was also acutely aware that my fellow online classmates were very likely in a boat similar to my own. It was so very important to me to participate in the online environment in a way that encouraged their success as well. When I received a notification that I was selected by the faculty to represent the online graduates at the commencement ceremony, I didn’t even know this was a thing. It was my intention to attend the graduation ceremony as a way to commemorate this very important milestone in my life – I had finally accomplished a life-long goal. I hope I serve my classmates in a way that speaks to the circumstances that brought them to the online program, as well as to the success and appreciation for the opportunity to achieve something that is so personally important.
Have you done anything like this before?
In my past, I have served the writing community as a writing tutor for college students and as a coach for both emerging and published writers. I have also had the opportunity, as a public speaker, to encourage writers to find their way through their creative work. I also served as a volunteer officer of a non-profit organization, the Evanston Writers’ Workshop, to manage the administration of an organization dedicated to the pursuit of a writer’s creative endeavors. I have never had the opportunity though, to represent a group of people who have achieved their degree through the discipline and sacrifice that is required for online study. This is an entirely new experience for me.
Have you thought about plans post-Antioch?
I hope to take what I am learning in the contemporary media program to create a web series. It is my ultimate goal to share what I have learned as a teacher in the online environment. I would love to see others realize their own creative potential while reaching an audience that is accustomed to our world’s contemporary digital format.
Where can we find you?
Right now, in a small town smack dab between my hometown of Chicago and my second-favorite place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Otherwise, I am immersed in the pursuit of my MFA. But in the future, who knows? When I am finished with my online education, I could be virtually anywhere. I could be helping others to achieve their online educational goals…or I could be a successful web series creator.