Monday evening marked my last class of the semester. This semester was both incredibly challenging for me and extremely rewarding. This was the first semester I was a full-time student, in addition to being a full-time teacher and a full-time (though it feels part-time) mom to a beautiful 16-month old girl. I felt like most of my life was spent reading, making to-do lists, driving (in rush hour traffic over the Howard Frankland!) or cramming some writing into what ever little free time I had. The important part though, is that I learned so much.
First, I learned exactly what I want to study. I discovered that my passion had a name and had a theory, and I devoured everything I could about it. I began to learn how to mold all of my coursework to fit my design, and it was incredibly rewarding. Everything I read and studied this semester will lead me to my dissertation, and that is a good feeling.
I also learned to be confident in my abilities and to rely on my peers for guidance. I had a proposal accepted at a national conference, and I also became immersed in a research lab with a group of fellow students. I gained valuable hands-on experience in qualitative research and began to feel like a real doc student.
Perhaps most importantly, I learned that I can handle it – the whole thing. Mom, student, teacher, wife, daughter – it is manageable. Of course, I have the most amazing partner who is able to support me and everything I do. It was hard, but I was able to do it and reap some serious rewards from it. I now know that I have the ability to finish this program and carve a name for myself in academia.