Sunday, May 8, 2011

Closure and Celebration

The Official Moment!

After five plus years of plugging along, I earned my education doctorate degree in December. I must admit that I was ready to be done. Working on this degree was different than my previous college experiences because I am older, have small children, and work. Needless to say, I had a divided mind, focusing in fits and spurts over a long period of time. Plus earning a doctorate is different than a master’s degree. It is a marathon rather than a sprint. And just when you are tired and beat up, you have to muster the energy to keep going. No one is there to tell you what to do and when. As a result, a high level of self-determination is needed to cross the finish line.

Now that I am done, people ask me what I am going to do with this degree. Well, the simple answer is I have no plan. Someday, it will probably come in handy as a minimum qualification for a job. But other than that, it has not changed my world. The thing about living in a university town and working at a university is you start to think having a PhD is normal. After all, almost everyone you meet has one. It’s definitely warped thinking! The other question people ask (as a joke) is whether I became any smarter. Well, hopefully I learned something along the way! However, I consider myself more of a “blue collar” academic. I am not some brilliant thinker like many people I know. But when push comes to shove, I can hang in this environment. Perhaps my strength is that I really like to learn new things and challenge myself mentally. It keeps me from becoming uninformed, stagnant, cynical, and lazy. Plus, the older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. It has taken nearly 20 years to realize how na├»ve I was when I first graduated college.

I was ambivalent about walking at graduation this weekend, but decided the celebration would be a nice way to put closure to my experience. Actually, Steve talked me into it - I did the same to him when he graduated with his PhD ten years ago. Plus my parents were excited to come watch me! All in all, it was a fun weekend. The adults might have been impressed, but the kids were not! They were bored. The fun part for me was walking near the front of the line just behind the faculty and getting a front row seat to boot. I guess this was the perk, along with wearing the cool robe and hat. Hurray for me!

Posing with the family: With my awesome husband and kids (above) and my mom and dad (below)