This news has been a LONG time coming, and I am so excited to share that the Williams family is Boston Bound! We found out "unofficially" a few weeks ago, and locked in most of the details in the last two weeks. So many of you have followed along on what became a bit of an emotional journey for me, so now that the secret's out I wanted to share a bit more!
Let's rewind to February 2017. Yes, almost 1.5 years ago. Grace was 4 months old, Casey had JUST returned from Iraq, and I had just started my new position as a company commander. On a Friday night, I got a phone call that changed the trajectory of our next 6-ish years.
A department head from the US Military Academy at West Point called. He had come across my (partially complete) application to serve as an instructor there. Was I still interested?
(For those who are not in the military, the US Military Academy is the "Army" in the Army-Navy football rivalry. It's a small, highly ranked 4-year college located on the Hudson River, about an hour north of New York City. The students are called cadets, and in addition to their academic studies, they are also trained to be military officers upon graduation. West Point has both civilian and military faculty, and the military faculty are active duty officers like me and Casey, they cycle through on 2-3 year assignments after 1-2 years in grad school.)
I was interested! But a lot had changed since I stated the online application. I had married Casey, and we had Grace. The only way I was going to be able to accept a position was if Casey had one, too. Casey and I have put great care into making sure we can stay in the same place, and it became even more important when Grace joined us. I talked through this with the department head, a Colonel, and he asked Casey to send some information to him. By Sunday morning, Casey had offers to work in three different departments at West Point.
Then came the hard part. We had 72 hours to decide if we wanted to go teach at West Point in 2019. Honestly, it wasn't an option we had even considered, and we had already started lining up some other competitive opportunities. It was an intense 72 hours. And ultimately, we said yes!
Flash forward to December 2017 -- Casey and I submitted our grad school application. We each applied to schools in Boston, New York, and DC (I applied to two in the DC area). And we started getting acceptance letters almost immediately! By February 2018, we were 7 for 7 -- I got into all 4 of my schools, and Casey into all 3 of his. So, it became hard again. Casey's best option was in the DC area; mine was Harvard, in Boston. And ultimately, we decided I couldn't turn down Harvard.
There were more twists and turns, though: I applied to Harvard's new data science program under the assumption it could be completed in 1 year (fall-spring-summer). It can't -- it's fall-spring-fall. West Point agreed to support a longer degree for me, but not for Casey. He would be required to move to West Point in summer 2019, and I could follow in December after my coursework was complete. We accepted that small amount of time apart, because it was a Harvard degree. Then, we found out I may have to stay in Boston an entire extra year. I got this news while Casey was training in Louisiana...with NO WAY TO CONTACT HIM FOR TWO WEEKS. I was also about 28 weeks pregnant when I got this news...so yes, I was a HOT EMOTIONAL MESS. But again, things worked out!
In mid-April, we got the "voco" -- a verbal promise that we'd be sent to Boston on the timeline we had agreed to. We waited and waited for our official moving orders, and then surprise! Ben was born! So that got derailed a little, and we finally got the official word just before Memorial Day. Now, we're racing to finalize all the details of this move!
It's so new an exciting for us. Going from a rural military town to a busy city like Boston is a little overwhelming. We'll be downsizing significantly, using almost all public transit, and walking to daycare, just to name a few. But it's a dream come true -- the Army is funding advanced degrees for us, in a great city, and we know we won't deploy for the next 4+ years! We are so excited and grateful for this opportunity!