Welcome to another edition of A Day in the Life! Today I am thrilled to welcome Allison Bennett. Allison comes to us from the wonderful book Embracing Hope by Janell Wojtowicz. Those of you who have read Embracing Hope know she’s a student and employee at Riley University. Today she’s going to share with us what it’s like to be Allison Bennett for a day!
Meet Allison Bennett. Life hasn’t been easy on her. Growing up on a small farm in Nebraska, her father struggled to make a living. When he died of a massive heart attack the summer before her senior year in high school, her life was turned upside down. After taking a year off following graduation to spend time with her mom and to earn money for college, she enrolled in Riley University, a prestigious Christian college in Omaha. She’s always been a hard-working student balancing a full course load and working two, even three jobs at once. She’s now a graduate student at Riley and works part-time in the Dean of Students’ office. Allison walks us through a typical day, which you’ll discover is anything BUT typical.
5 a.m. – I always wake up before my alarm. My mind knows what I need to do before the 8 a.m. chapel service at Riley so I’m wide awake at 5. After a quick breakfast (usually cereal and fruit), I finish any homework, make my bed, and clean whatever needs to be cleaned. If I take the bus, I leave at 7:15. If I take my roommate’s car or she drives me on her way to work, I leave at 7:30. I’m notoriously early, which I credit to being born three weeks early.
8 a.m. – Chapel is a daily requirement for both undergrad and grad students. I appreciate the fact it’s first thing in the morning as I have the time to focus on the Lord to prepare me for what lies ahead, thank Him for everything He’s done for me, and pray for guidance. The campus pastor, Mitch Lindstrom, is a good speaker who keeps it short, but meaningful. The dean of students, Drew McKinley, opens the service with prayer and announcements. He has a good sense of humor, which wakes up the kids. Sometimes he shares words of encouragement that he found in his own Bible study.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30-10:15 a.m. – Class, “Communication in Human Organizations.” This is the most interesting class I’m taking this semester. WOW, I never knew how complicated communication in organizations and businesses can be, especially due to social media and how small the world has become.
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Class, “Political Economy of Media Culture.” All I can say about this is I NEVER want to get into politics!
8:30-10:15 a.m. – Class, “History and Criticism of U.S. Public Discourse.” I can see why it’s required: no one would ever take it! It’s dull, which isn’t good since it’s the first class of the day.
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Class, “Small Group Communication Research.” This is not lecture (thank goodness), but group collaboration. I learn more from my fellow students than I do from the professors.
12:30-12:55 p.m. – Lunch, which I bring from home. The food plan at school is ridiculously high, especially considering the quantity and quality. My roommate, Renee, is a good cook, even the leftovers.
1 p.m.-5 p.m. – I work as a communications assistant in the dean’s office. I do a lot of content development, such as staff correspondence, inter-departmental reports, brochure and website content. I even helped develop a PowerPoint presentation that the dean gave to the Board of Regents. I was surprised he was nervous about speaking to the regents. He’s a charismatic speaker and seems to relish it when he leads chapel every morning.
I’ll be honest, this has been a difficult job; not because of the work but because of the atmosphere. Drew lost his wife last February. Like most people in mourning, he has good days and bad days. Student unrest and an obnoxious student senate president haven’t helped. The student senate president gets on my nerves, too.
I can kind of relate to what Drew is going through as my dad died suddenly and life was in such chaos. What made the grief even harder to deal with was my mother and I moved to Iowa to live with her parents. But Mom and I had family around to help us. Drew’s all alone here; his family is all out east. I feel so bad for him and wish I could help him more, but it’s up to God to heal his broken heart.
5:15-6:25 p.m. – I use this time to have a quick supper (again, brought from home), do some homework or take part in a study group. I get a lot out of the groups, especially how we encourage each other.
6:30-10 p.m. – I have two night classes: “Advanced Interpersonal Communication” on Monday and Tuesday; “Advanced Topics in Communication Studies” on Wednesday and Thursday. I enjoy both these classes. The profs are great and despite the class names, there’s good discussion. Even the essays are enjoyable to write.
Friday night is a freebie from classes. I might go out with friends, but most Friday nights I’m working on my master’s thesis, “The economics of mass communication: What effects are social networking sites having?” Does that sound boring? I’m wondering how I can make it somewhat interesting so people will want to read it.
Drew said most theses and dissertations end up “bound and gagged” on library shelves. I’m beginning to understand that. The only people who will read it are those doing research on the same topic. My mother and Drew think I’m taking on too much of an academic load, but I want to finish my master’s in three semesters, not the usual four.
I try to call it a day at 11 but most of the time it’s midnight. I know that only leaves me five hours of sleep a night, but I make up for it on weekends. I think I’m like my dad; I don’t need that much sleep.
Some nights I have a hard time getting to sleep because of issues in the dean’s office. Drew is only 30 so he’s still adjusting to being an administrator. He says he loves working with students, but it seems most of the students he deals with are in trouble. He’s even had to expel a few, which was harder on him than the students. Drew’s having a crisis of faith, too. I’m not surprised by that. I had a lot of questions about losing Dad, so I’m sure he has the same questions, and probably even more painful questions.
I wonder if grad school is a waste of time and money. I got a full-tuition scholarship, but that doesn’t pay for books, fees and living expenses. I should just go and get a job in a corporate setting where I can make enough money to help my mom and grandparents. She lives in a small town where the jobs aren’t plentiful and don’t pay well, which is why she still lives with her parents seven years after Dad died. The problem is, my grandfather is still working to pay the bills even though he should retire because of health problems. But I need to have faith that God will provide—so far He has—just enough and in His time.
Wow, thank you Allison for sharing a day in your life. Now, for more about the book and author!
About the Book
Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/682248
Barnes Noble Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embracing-hope-janell-butler-wojtowicz
About the Author
Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise that she has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including newspaper journalism, Christian higher education and nonprofit public relations, and local government public information. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Twitter – @janellwoj
Author Facebook – www.Facebook.com/janellbwoj
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16046310.Janell_Butler_Wojtowicz
Author Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/janellbwoj