Back in action!

After a few months of inactivity on my blog, I am happy to announce that I am back in action! As my final semester of school (ever!) wraps up, I have started to run, scooter, craft, read, and enjoy my free time again.

While I’ve kept myself busy with many things these past few months, the biggest time suck my  largest accomplishment was the completion of my professional project for my master’s degree. Unlike most of my academic peers, who work on their projects over the course of a year, I did mine in a matter of three months (while still working, coaching lots of volleyball, and maintaining some degree of a social life).

Due to my non-traditional and very compact project timeline, my project committee initially expressed serious concern that I would not be able to finish a full-fledged, degree-cumulative professional project in one semester, which would thereby prolong my graduation. However, my committee obviously does not know how I operate, because if someone doubts me, I am more determined to prove that person wrong than to accomplish the actual task at hand. Plus under no circumstances was I willing to delay my graduation. So, with significant support from my friends, family and co-workers (a special shout out to two co-workers who edited the 100+ page document for me), I cranked it out. And, I must said, it is a masterpiece. Seriously, my project committee thoroughly complimented my final project—and in my head, I thought to myself, “And you doubted me. Ha. Chumps.” (I hope they aren’t reading this!)

Anyway, it turned out to be a really interesting project. For those of you that are curious about the topic, here’s my abstract:

Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is a statewide network designed to connect, empower and retain young Nebraskans. Due to the geographic spread of its members, the CYN network functions as a virtual community—a group of people who primarily interact through electronic means. With CYN approaching a period of organizational transition, this project is a social and community plan for CYN. The project describes the network, summarizes the key issues facing the network, and recommends strategies to minimize issues and strengthen the network. More specifically, the plan addresses how CYN can evolve so as to ensure the sustainability and continued success of the network. As the basis for developing alternatives and a recommendation for CYN to move forward, this project synthesizes the findings of three independent but related endeavors. First, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of current research relevant to virtual communities, with an emphasis on the attributes and sustainability factors of virtual communities. Second, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of a recent social network analysis performed on the CYN network by an outside firm. Third, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of a two-part, virtual facilitated model building exercise that was conducted with the network’s steering committee. After completion of the three project endeavors, there was thoughtful synthesis and reflection regarding the project, complete with recommendations for the CYN network. This final document was prepared with the intent to help the current CYN network leadership explore the best alternatives and options for CYN as it moves forward, as well as to identify how the network can remain relevant and beneficial to its members.

And for the few that are interested in reading it, or perhaps just perusing it because of its length, you are welcome to read the full document.

While the experience of completing a professional project was good for me, I am glad it is behind me. In fact, as of Friday I’ve been officially done with school, or at least the work part of it. The only thing I have left is picking up my diploma.

After enjoying my first homework-free weekend, I really cannot put in words how great it feels to be done with schoolwork. Not only do I not have to devote chunks of my limited free time to completing silly assignments, I am also free of the guilt that comes along with choosing a social or personal activity over homework. Also (and true to my Gebhart name) I get to read for fun. In fact, that’s how I spent my free time this past weekend. And, it was amazing, especially since the weather was nice and I got to read outside on Saturday (not Sunday though, because Saturday resulted in a small sunburn, whoops..).

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend and I actually feel rested and ready for the week. I think I can get used to these relaxing weekends. 🙂

As a side note, and a teaser for future blog posts, during the flurry of my project, my employer gave me my own office at work, which I, of course, felt obligated to decorate creatively. Dakota Lizzie already revealed it, but I’ll actually blog about it soon. And, as my project came to an end, I completed two craft projects that I am super proud of: the first was a t-shirt quilt for a friend and the second was a end-of-the-year volleyball gift for my 13-year-old team. So, keep an eye out for blog updates on those!

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