Many years ago, when I got my first bachelor’s degree, my parents gave me a hard time because I didn’t want to walk at graduation. It seemed like kind of a pain in the ass, to be honest. A long ceremony, watching and waiting as lots of people I’d never met or even heard of got their diplomas, and then like 30 seconds of glory as my name was announced and I crossed the stage – collecting a blank piece of paper, because my actual diploma would be sent in the mail later, when it was confirmed I’d actually met the requirements. Oh, and also, I’d have to pay a few hundred dollars to rent the graduation garb. RENT it. I didn’t even get to keep it! Seriously?
In the end, I did not walk for my bachelor’s degree. On the day I would have been at that ceremony, my mom and I were celebrating my graduation with a trip to New York City, which was quite fun and meant way more to me than any graduation ceremony could have. I didn’t walk when I got my second bachelor’s either, or any of my master’s degrees. I say this as humbly as possible: I have more formal education than most people I know, but the only graduation ceremony I’ve ever been to was for my high school diploma.
The fact is, I’ve been holding out. I wanted the PhD. I would walk for that. I’ll admit, partly I wanted the incredible hat. 🙂 I mean, come on, look at the garb you get to wear when you get your Phd. I will gladly pay hundreds of dollars to rent that!
And finally, finally, things came together, and tonight, I found myself sitting in my very first ever doctoral class. I’m a PhD student! I can hardly believe it. I know I kept grinning like a crazy person throughout my first class. I’m doing this degree part-time while I continue to work at my job full-time (for which I am tremendously grateful both to the iSchool at UMD for accepting part time PhD students and to my library, my director, and my boss for their absolutely incredible support for this undertaking). I know that’s going to be hard work, but I think I’m up for it. And more than that, I think it’s worth it.
When I went to the PhD program orientation recently, our cohort of brand new students had some time to spend with the continuing PhD students in a no-holds barred, tell-all session. While it was kind of a “what’s said in this room stays in this room” kind of session, one thing that I think I can safely say came out of it was the idea that you should get in the habit of writing every day. I agree this is a good habit to get into, and I’m going to try to make sure that the writing I do translates to some real output – maybe work toward a paper, or maybe just something I say on this blog. Obviously I won’t write here on the blog every day, but I’ll try to document this process, hopefully share some interesting things.
I also want to post this entry now because I’m sure I’ll look back on this several years from now when it’s all over, and maybe I’ll laugh, or cry, or just think how naive I was. But for now, let’s just say, starting with Day One, I am thrilled, excited, honored, and lucky, and I am so thankful to all of the people who have helped me arrive at this place.
Now let’s earn that incredible 8-pointed PhD hat!