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I Finished Grad School!

A brief reflection

By Steven Christopher McKnightPublished 20 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024
I Finished Grad School!
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

I finished my Master’s Degree! Did I learn anything? Arguably. Do I regret it? Not particularly. Will I use it? Not immediately. My Master’s Degree was challenging. I feel as though it precluded me from living out the life I’ve wanted to live these past two years: traveling the world, working abroad, seeing new sights. Was that what I was doing before I came to Binghamton University to start my Master’s Degree in Theatre? Absolutely, it was. Before coming to Binghamton, I was an ESL teacher. I’d worked in Ukraine the previous summer, and in Slovakia the autumn after that. That job in Slovakia broke me: the management was rude, there wasn’t much of a support system in place, and I’d gotten ill several times. That awful experience was what drew me to applying for Master’s programs to start in 2022.

Of course, in 2022, russia (written here in lowercase out of solidarity with my friends who do not recognize the legitimacy of it as a state) invaded Ukraine, the first country I taught in, where I had made close friends and planned to work after acquiring some more experience in ESL education so as to secure better pay. With the largest land war in Europe since World War II affecting people I knew and adored, I had a lot of trouble finding the purpose of getting a Master’s Degree in Theatre. After all, what could a lonely MA do in the face of unimaginable human evil and cruelty? But what else could I do? To fill the gap between coming home from that awful job in Slovakia and moving on to the next big thing, I’d taken up a job at a thrift store, and the work was entertaining and it paid well, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long run. So, I took a couple vacations to Europe that summer, and came back ready to study.

I won’t bore you with the details of my education. My first year was rough; I thought I could accomplish my academic duties and still have time to pursue some artistic ambitions as well. I was the stage manager for a studio performance at Binghamton University which, rewarding as it was, made my life a living hell. I was a Teaching Assistant for a while, internalized some pedagogical practices that I presume will help me as I continue working in education. The summer between my first and second years of my Master’s Degree, I even secured a grant to go back to Ukraine for a couple of weeks and do some research there for my thesis. It was the most brilliant, most meaningful, most traumatic experience of my life, and the shows I saw and the actors I interviewed there turned out to be the backbone of my thesis.

And now I have a Master’s Degree, $22,000 in debt, a full-length playscript that no one will produce, and a 161-page Master’s Thesis about Ukrainian drama from the 1920s and 2020s. My thesis defense went perfectly. I sounded knowledgeable, I educated the committee on a theatrical narrative that nobody is ever taught, and I passed with zero revisions required. My thesis was the longest research thesis the department had ever seen; the damn thing was 40,000 words. And I can brag about that—I do brag about that—but there’s an emptiness I feel now that it’s over, like I have no idea what to do with everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve produced. Obviously, I want to pursue a doctorate—maybe not now, since the thesis-work was so difficult that I missed the deadlines for every application window in the world, but definitely in the near-future.

With that being said, I’ve secured a job in the Czech Republic for the 2024-2025 academic year. I’ll be teaching English as a Second Language through theatre games and plays, something that would not have been possible if it weren’t for my Master’s in Theatre. (Hey, maybe that’s what it was all for!) Between now and then, I’m researching everything I can about the history of Czech theatre, finding connections and digressions between Czech theatre history and Ukrainian theatre history, building my research matrix so that when I eventually apply for PhD programs, I’ll be the most impressive application they come across. I’m learning Czech and Ukrainian, and building my strength in other Slavic languages, and making a little niche for myself as a researcher and a theatermaker. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ll try to write more on here, but we all know how that goes. Thanks for coming back whenever I resurface!

To find more of my work, please check out my profile! Otherwise, you can help alleviate some of that student loan debt by checking out the following article:

Thank you for your support, and have an excellent day!


About the Creator

Steven Christopher McKnight

Disillusioned twenty-something, future ghost of a drowned hobo, cryptid prowling abandoned operahouses, theatre scholar, prosewright, playwright, aiming to never work again.

Venmo me @MickTheKnight

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Comments (17)

  • Andrea Corwin about 16 hours ago

    Congrats on your Master's and the Top Story. You will have fun in Czech!!

  • Babs Iverson16 days ago

    Congratulations on you Master's degree. It appears yhe pieces are coming together. Love the idea of learning English through games and theater!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Novel Allen16 days ago

    Your life sounds positively exciting and well used. Congrats on earning your degree, what a lot you have planned. Good luck with it all, kudos on your TS.

  • Mark Graham16 days ago

    Congratulations on getting your Master's. I to have a Masters and a Doctorate in Education. You have chosen well and using in a way what you learned even if it does not fit all the time.

  • sofamof66816 days ago

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  • Congratulations 🥳

  • Local Man16 days ago


  • The Dani Writer16 days ago

    Congratulations on achieving a postgraduate degree! I liked your open and honest sharing. Top story kudos!

  • Lana V Lynx17 days ago

    First, congratulations on your Master's! That is an impressive achievement. Second, thanks for bringing up the memories of my own experiences in the doctoral program (looking back, if I knew what it entailed, I honestly am not sure I would have started it, but I was a single mother to a toddler then). Third, let me express my support and admiration for everything you do for Ukraine. One day, it will all pay off and make sense, I'm sure. Finally, congrats on your job in Czechia, that should be an interesting adventure.

  • KJ Aartila17 days ago

    Wow! Congrats! That's a huge accomplishment - especially being surrounded by such challenging circumstances. I always enjoy reading your work. You are a talent and a force, and I wish you all the best for your future selves! Wherever your choices take you, the potential will be epic! (stealing some wording from my nephew) :)

  • Joe Patterson17 days ago

    Your story is a true testament to all who are on a similar journey. Congratulations on your top story. You will come out on top in the end.

  • JBaz17 days ago

    Ah the scholastic life, it comes with a mix bag of promises. As long as you are proud of what you accomplished then it was worth it.

  • Khan17 days ago

    Congratulations on completing your master's degree and obviously on the top story ❤️

  • Christy Munson17 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! Congratulations also on earning your Master's. Best of luck, when the time comes, on the PhD.

  • Lamar Wiggins17 days ago

    Your perseverance and resilience can never be questioned. Even when things are not in alignment, you still push through and find your next adventure. Truly admirable! Congrats on your TS!

  • Belle17 days ago

    Congratulations on your Master's!! I love all the travellings you've done!!! This is a great recollection of your achievements. I hope you all the best in the Czech Republic!!

  • Rachel Deeming20 days ago

    Congratulations! Your hard work paid off and now you get to do something much more stimulating and arguably more immediately rewarding. I wish you every success!

Steven Christopher McKnightWritten by Steven Christopher McKnight

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