A week and a half ago I finished juggling 18 hours of classes all the way to the finish line. I lost a lot of steam right before finals week — in fact, I felt like the semester had been exactly one week too long — but I survived and emerged with straight As. That’s a first for me at Baylor, and I’m proud of the accomplishment, especially considering that it looked unlikely as late as April. I thought my Fall semester would be hard to top, and I was right — it was hard.

I quit my internship in Waco, since I have other plans for the summer. The job was an excellent opportunity for me, and I was given a nice send-off. There’s a chance I’ll be offered the same position again in the Fall, and there’s a chance I’ll take it, but I suspect I’ll be too busy.

I’ll be in San Antonio in just over a week. I have new shoes and business-casual shirts, and while I haven’t yet lined up an apartment, I expect to have one soon. Meanwhile, my vacation has been a great opportunity for me to unwind and do what I feel like doing, all the time. At the moment that means catching up with friends and family from home, chipping away at my todo list, and examining my road to graduate school and beyond.

I’m not interested in spending 5 or more years of my life working for a Ph.D., since I don’t plan to do research professionally, but I am interested in a master’s degree, which will take about two years. Of the graduate programs to which I think I have a decent chance of being accepted, UT Austin’s may still be my top choice, but Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute has recently caught my attention as well. I also plan on applying to Rice, and I may apply to Georgia Tech, too. Baylor is always an option, but I’m setting my sights higher for now, since it’d be better for me and for the reputation of Baylor’s computer science department (which has definitely prepared me for graduate school) if I were accepted to a better program at another school. I’ll buy a GRE preparation book soon and take the exam in August or September as I round up letters of recommendation from my professors and prepare my actual applications. After graduate school, or beyond 2011, it will be time for me to enter the real world for good.

Finally, I was struck last week by an idea that might give me an opportunity to use my technical skills for something world-altering. The idea still needs fleshing out, so I’m not yet ready to discuss it, but I know that a lot of people dream about connecting their professions to the needs of humanity, and I may have figured out how I’ll accomplish that.