This Is Not the End, It's the Beginning

Calah McQuarters, MBA/MPP '24

March 07, 2024

Calah McQuartersThere is a phrase I’ve been hearing repeatedly during this semester that I want to share with you all. “This is not the end…”

I am currently in the process of writing my MPP Capstone. This paper and presentation are the culmination of all that I’ve learned as a student in the MPP program. It has been a tedious process thus far, as research and writing can often be. But it has also been an exciting process because I am researching and writing on what I care about. There is a common phrase that goes “when you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. I don’t know if I would go that far for my Capstone project, but what I will say is when you learn about what you love, it makes the task at hand that much easier. 

As I mentioned before, this process hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. There is a persistent problem I have continued to run into as I’ve gone through the semester. How in the world am I supposed to fit years worth of a policy problem and an infinite amount of solutions into a 25 page policy brief and 15 minute presentation?? The answer: I’m not. I didn’t understand this at the beginning of my writing process. I am a big picture person. I love understanding how things are interconnected and I love to trace how history impacts issues we are facing in society today. But I was quickly informed that my big picture thinking wasn’t exactly what was needed for my Capstone project. I need to zone in, narrow down, and get a bit more in the weeds. I think the Teaching Assistant for my Capstone project saw my face when he provided this feedback because he quickly followed it up with “This is not the end!”

He let me know that although my Capstone is the culmination of the MPP experience, it is not the culmination of my life’s work. It is not the end of my journey researching things I am passionate about and want to change. It is only the beginning.

I’ve had to remind myself of this fact while searching for summer internships and thinking about post graduate jobs. While in grad school it can feel like you need to take advantage of the world in the limited time you have. I can certainly say that I have taken classes, worked jobs, participated in extracurricular activities, attended meetings and town halls, all trying to make sure I am absorbing any and everything available to me. With the end of my graduate program inching closer by the day, it has started to feel like I’m running out of time. But I have to remind myself, this is not the end. I may be ending my formal education, but I am continuing a life of learning. I am moving into a world with endless possibilities and endless new beginnings that I can choose whenever I want to! One class, one job, one activity, will neither complete me, nor derail me and the success I know is always on the horizon. 

This is not the end. It’s only the beginning. This applies to everyone reading this. If you are not accepted to Heller, this is not the end. If you are about to graduate from Brandeis or any other school, this is not the end. If you’re making a career or life transition, this is not the end! There is more life to live and more impact to make. So take a breath, complete what is in front of you, and set new expectations and new goals. Your new beginning is waiting for you.