I am proud of Dr. Nelly Cardinale who is also featured in the Galeria de Doctoras Latinas in case you want to learn more about her. I hope you enjoy her wonderful story:
My Dissertation Defense Day by Dr. Nelly Cardinale
|Nelly Cardinale at Northeaster University |
ready for her dissertation defense!
Later that night at around 9:00pm, another doctoral student friend who had driven to Boston earlier from Vermont and was currently at the university library working on a doctoral class assignment texted me. As preplanned, she checked into the same hotel that I was in with the intention of spending the dissertation day with me and offering me moral support during the defense stage. She quickly came down to my room to meet me in person for the first time.
It was great meeting her since we had become online friends from the time I was waiting for an admission decision from Northeastern University. It turns out that we both started the doctoral program at the same time and in the same class. Since then, we have been good friends and classmates in a few other classes together. We talked for a while and agreed to meet the next morning.
The next day, we met at around 10:00am and had a quick breakfast. We returned to our hotel rooms to rest for a while. I wanted to change clothing and put on the new attire that I bought for the event. After, we drove to the university, walked around, took pictures in front of different buildings and looked for the building where the defense would take place. We also visited the college bookstore and bought some college gear. The defense was scheduled for 1:00pm. I was getting very nervous and did not want to eat lunch before the defense, as I felt that I would get an upset stomach.
Finally, we found out that the defense building was located off the main campus. Therefore, we left the main campus and headed for the defense location. Just before I was about to walk inside the building, a tourist asked us for directions. The man turned out to be a Methodist minister who was visiting from Washington DC. Coincidently, my friend just happened to also practice the same religion and quickly told him that I was about to become a doctor. Surprisingly, he stated that if this was the case, then I needed a blessing and gave me one right then and there. This raised my confidence level and eased my anxiety.
My friend and I walked into the defense room and met my advisor and second reader for the first time. I had seen them during summer residency sessions but never introduced myself before. I used my advisor's computer to project the PowerPoint defense presentation. The system used to live-stream the defense was the GOTOMEETING platform. This system allows many online people to participate in the meeting. The system also allowed the third member of my committee to attend my defense remotely from Pennsylvania. As preplanned, two other doctoral student friends who live in the Boston area arrived in person in order to provide additional moral support during the process. Many other doctoral students in the program, as well as my husband and sons, also logged in to watch my defense live.
I was allowed 20 minutes to present what my dissertation was about. Afterwards, the second and third readers took turns asking me questions about my study for the next 40 minutes. However, they ran out of questions before their allotted time and then my advisor asked the audience if they had questions. One of my friends inside the defense room did have a few questions for me. My advisor was not allowed to ask any questions during the defense. After the hour was up, my friends and I were asked to leave the room and all online viewers except for the third member of my committee were disconnected. The committee would meet in private for around 10 minutes to discuss my fate. The local Boston friends hugged me, wished me luck and left.
My friend from Vermont and I started to pace the hallway the way expectant fathers do. I was really feeling nervous and was not sure what would happen next. Finally, my advisor opened the door and called me back in. She stated that she had good news: I had passed my defense and was now a new doctor! I was so happy. I hugged my advisor and the second reader and asked if I can take pictures with them.
My friend and I went out to eat lunch, but again I was just so emotional that I decided to only have a drink to celebrate. She then walked me to the nearest metro station where we both rode a train to the airport. We hugged and said our goodbyes.
When I returned to Florida, my husband and sons had a surprise for me. It was a delicious chocolate cake that said, "Congratulations Dr. Mom".