Trust the process.
Those three words have guided Tracy Meunier through her higher education journey. She will graduate from Boise State University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies program in May 2023. Meunier, a student intern at Boise State, had a difficult year in 2015. She left the religion that had been part of her life for 40 years and also saw her 22-year marriage end in divorce. Despite challenges, the mother of four — Taylor, Aubrey, Hannah and Jackson – persisted.
Self-Discovery and Moving Forward
“During the past seven years of school, I experienced great loss, heartache, fear, grief and enormous sacrifice,” she said. “I really understand now what it means to have grit. Through it all, I never once doubted that I would eventually put on a cap and gown and move my tassel to the other side.”
“Forced to rely solely on myself financially, I began soul-searching in desperation for authenticity,” she said. “To say I felt lost is an understatement. Heartbroken, lacking confidence and full of fear, I somehow picked up the pieces and accepted it. ‘Trust the process’ became my mantra.”
Returning to school was the obvious solution. Meunier enrolled at the College of Western Idaho to study her passion, working with Deaf people. While the program fit her passions, she still needed flexibility and with the advice of her advisor, she enrolled in the online Interdisciplinary Professional Studies program at Boise State. The flexibility of the online format also helps Meunier have time to devote to schoolwork and her internship.
“My self-discovery journey up to that point had me constantly curious and craving enlightenment,” she said. “I learned the power of mindfulness. New perspectives helped cultivate a much greater capacity for empathy and acceptance. With courses taught around conflict management, integrative thinking and emotional intelligence, the interdisciplinary professional studies program is exactly where I belonged. I felt right at home.”
Boise State’s Interdisciplinary Professional Studies program empowers students to take creative ownership of their education by drawing on their past educational, professional and personal experiences to create a custom path that aligns with their goals. The core curriculum pushes students to combine their ideas and experiences with new, interdisciplinary learning opportunities to better understand context and discover new connections, create collaborative and productive relationships and become reflective and adaptive learners.
“It was perfect for me,” she said. “I could do it on my own time. I had to discipline myself a little bit to not wait until the very end, but it worked out really well. I needed the fully-online format to work it in with my crazy schedule.”
Finding Her Passion Early
Meunier, who is from Anaheim, California, developed a love for sign language as a young child watching Sesame Street.
“I was fascinated with Linda, a character who was Deaf, and wanted so much to be her friend,” she said. “I wanted to learn how to talk like she did. I started teaching myself, then went to Golden West Community College because I was interested in it.”
Thus began a lifetime passion for working with special needs children that is still going strong. She worked in the paraprofessional visually impaired program at Boise Public School District for more than two years. She is passionate about working with the Deaf community because she loves their language and culture.
“I have always dreamed of being an interpreter for the Deaf,” she said. “I learned ASL quite a long time ago, and I thought that was the only thing I could do. At the College of Western Idaho, that was my focus.
The Flexibility to Reach Her Goals
“When I found out that my schedule didn’t match up to complete the requirements for the interpreting program, my advisor told me about the program at Boise State. She mentioned some specific things about it that sounded interesting to me, like you could receive credit for prior learning, and you can help design your own degree. I sent off an email and trusted the process.”
During her time at Boise State, Meunier has embraced her love of connecting with others by leading virtual student meet-ups and regularly contributing to social media. Her favorite courses in the online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies program are “Perspective Taking” and “Integrative Thinking.”
“I still love to socialize with Deaf people, but I was so inspired by the program and loved it so much that I would like to work within the program at Boise State,” she said. “It would be my dream job to work with students who are like me.
“I am older. I am a returning student and very nontraditional. I needed guidance when I enrolled, and I’d like to be able to guide other students, as well.”
Pomp and Circumstance
After her long journey, Meunier is eager to walk across the graduation stage at the commencement ceremony.
“I have to,” she said. “I’ve waited way too long for this. Two of the kids who are out of town are traveling in. They’re excited and very supportive. Here I am, their 49-year-old mom getting a bachelor’s degree. I’m following in their footsteps. It’s been fantastic. I got so much more out of the program than I could have imagined.”
Meunier said that she believes creating the right learning space is a big key to success for online students. And, of course, trusting the process.
“Make your own environment where you learn — your happy place,” she said. “I always have a candle going and a live bird feeder cam on YouTube. You have to make it a happy place for you. Also, approach every assignment with the intent that it’s there for a purpose. There are so many unique assignments in the program. It all comes full-circle. If you approach it with the intent to learn, what we get from those unique assignments is a fantastic education.
“And ask advisers about all of the certificates and emphasis areas. I have a leadership certificate and a conflict management certificate. I wouldn’t have known had somebody not told me about them.”
Meunier once saw a friend post a photo of herself on the patio of the house she bought after going through a divorce, which inspired her to return to college. “In October, I will be 50 years old,” she said. “Earning a degree has proved to me that something I want but seems impossible isn’t! I might not know exactly what my future holds, but I am certain that I am stepping into it with a lot more of what was lacking before I began this pursuit — confidence.
Earning a degree has proved to me that something I want but seems impossible isn’t!
“Along with that comes new perspectives, deeper authenticity, greater empathy and a mind even more open to learning. My new quest is to someday take a picture of myself enjoying my own charming patio, at the house I bought myself.”
Learn More About Interdisciplinary Professional Studies
Want to learn more about the Interdisciplinary Professional Studies program? Join us for an online information session or contact a student success coach.