Dr. Patty day… next week…


June 10 is Dr. Patty day — it’s the 1 year anniversary of my dissertation defense.

I’ve been reading Dr. Crazy for a long, long time — She describes the defense this way…

And I also told her this, and I really do believe it: finishing the Ph.D. – successfully defending the dissertation – is, I think, the biggest accomplishment a person can have.  For me, this was so much bigger than getting a job, so much bigger than getting tenure, so much bigger than publishing my book.  For a lot of reasons.  I don’t have kids, but even if I did, this would be something that I did for myself – under my own steam.  It’s a big motherfucking deal.

I agree — all of the things Dr. Crazy mentions involve a combination of luck, skill and timing — but, writing the dissertation is something you just have to do.  There’s no way a well-connected advisor can make your argument for you.  There’s no chance that you happen to write the correct thing in your cover letter to make you stand out from the 500 or so other applicants for your job.  It isn’t the case that your book has to catch the eye of a publisher and be (somewhat, at least) viable.  You just have to do it.

Just after I finished my coursework, I moved to MN with hubby.   I was 450 miles away from my grad school and felt it.  It took me several years to really decide I needed to finish the darned thing — and then several more years to actually do it.  To be honest, there were many times I thought I should just quit — but, I simply couldn’t.

Along the dissertation trail, I also:

  • Presented at a couple of conferences (very helpful).
  • Changed committee members (Dr. Advisor’s help was crucial)
  • Coached a lot of debate.
  • Helped run a national debate organization.
  • Chaired the humanities department at BNCC.
  • Was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and chemo.
  • Taught a 5/5 load plus 2 summer classes… usually about 200 or so students per semester.
  • Learned how to teach online.
  • Conducted a long-distance marriage — which involved driving 800 miles on a weekend a couple of times per month.
  • Was the primary earner for most of the time — including supporting hubby in his 1L year.

Wow — when I write the list, it’s pretty freaking amazing that I get to celebrate Dr. Steck day.

I also need to give credit where it’s due —

Dr. Advisor was wonderful — thoughtful, usually prompt with his comments and quite generous with his time and attention.  He was exactly what I needed, someone who understood the heavy teaching load I was carrying and helped me see the steps one at a time.

Hubby was also quite helpful in formulating my dissertation — he’d get in the tub, I’d come talk to him about the ideas I had and he’d help me figure out what I’m thinking.  Even though we disagree about a lot of the dissertation, he deserves credit as my foil.

There was no way I could have done it on my own — but, I was the one who had to do it… and I did!!!!   YEA ME!!!


One Response

  1. Yes, yea you!!! You deserve it!!!

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