Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Memories of Super Duper

The end is near.

I remember starting my Ph.D. program at Super Duper University nearly three years ago – how terrified I was, how inadequate I felt, and how overwhelmed my life became. I remember those first classes, as my husband drove me three and a half hours to class, sat in a coffee shop for eight hours while I took class from 2-10 p.m., and then we drove back three and a half hours so I could go to work at 8 a.m. the next day.

At Super Duper University for the first time
I remember meeting my adviser for the first time, trying to find commonality in the fact that we both run. I remember when he asked me if I would be moving to the state, and I said, “No,” in a fearful voice. And then he said that would be okay; they could work with me.

I remember my first research class. Sitting in the back of the class with the slackers, naturally. Hating research. Writing about how I hated research.  It didn’t get much better the next semester, either, with the second research class. Same teacher. I thought I might die. But I didn’t. I grabbed another 4.0 that semester.

I remember taking the mini-session, a stats class (with the same professor) that lasted a week. How I dreaded that class – but how it turned out to be so much fun. Stats, when you use a computer, turns out to be fairly easy. And it helped that instead of keeping us from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the professor had us stay from 9 a.m. to noon. Fabulous. We headed to the coast, spent a day at the beach, watched movies…frankly, it was a great week.

Gulf Coast -- a beautiful sight 
I remember working to take in-state classes to get that much-wanted in-state tuition. Both were disasters. The first one, turns out, was a pass/fail grade. Guess what? Super Duper doesn’t accept pass/fail grades. So I may have passed the course, but the class itself was a fail (yuk, yuk). The second class nearly killed me. The professor was a doofus. I consider surviving that class a badge of honor.

I remember comps, that awful week of stress. High blood pressure, hell-llo! How my husband tried to make it better by taking me to the zoo, telling me to schedule a massage, and picking out fun places for us to eat. I remember getting my results in on my dad’s birthday – passed! Then oral comps were on Halloween. Passed!! Sitting out in that hall waiting for them to make their decision was tense. I know it probably didn’t last more than three minutes, but it did feel like an eternity.

A sign I saw while waiting to take my comps. 
And now, I see the light. I had to replace a member on my dissertation committee, and my new committee member sounds so excited to be on my committee. I sent him an email asking if he would serve, and when he called me back, the first word out of his mouth was a resounding “YES!”

I have two hurdles left in this journey. The first has officially been scheduled. March 19 – the day I defend my dissertation proposal. What this means, basically, is that I have to give a very good explanation of why I’m going to write what I’m going to write. The second hurdle is completing the dissertation and defending it in full.

And then I’ll be a Ph.D. 


Mari said...

Hooray for you! I'm so proud of you for coming this far, and soon you'll be done!

Brooke said...

how awesomely exciting and a bit intimidating!

misti said...


I never had any doubt.