Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Courage to Restart and Recommit

Cindy and Winston's Wedding Day ~ July 2013

Recently, I had the privilege of attending my sister Cindy’s second wedding.  I watched the ceremony with deep admiration for my sister’s courage to restart and recommit to marriage.  I am also proud of her because she is about to begin a new educational journey in a Ph.D. program in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. Committing to all of these new beginnings, she is very courageous indeed. 

These new milestones my sister is experiencing made me reflect on my stops and starts with many of my life happenings, especially my dissertation.  I remember having moments when I said to myself, “I quit!” and moved on with my life free of the thought of an unfinished Ph.D.  As David Madsen quips in his helpful book, Successful Dissertations and Theses, I would be joining the “Shubert Society,” a reference to the composer’s Symphony No. 8in B Minor, the “Unfinished.”

I actually thought quitting would be easy, but as it turned out, that was not the case. I had daily thoughts nagging away at me: Am I really going to walk away from this lifelong goal? What about all those classes I took, pages read, assignments completed and comprehensive exams passed? Did I really want to be another ABD?

I even went as far as to consider what being ABD would look like on my resume: Would it signal to potential employers that I am a quitter or that I don’t know how to finish what I started? Do I just leave it off altogether?

Last year I took a deep breath and I made a major decision.  I decided, no, I did not want to continue being ABD.  So what did I do?  I mustered up the courage, energy and determination to restart and recommit to working on the dissertation, the last step in the doctoral process. Since then, the revisions and updates have felt like ongoing restarts as I continue to get feedback and narrow my topic to a “doable” scope.  This is not an easy task, but what keeps me going is regularly meeting some amazing Doctoras Latinas who remind me it is DOABLE!

Today I celebrate my sister and her husband's union and I wish them a life of love and happiness as they blend their beautiful families.  I also celebrate myself and anyone else who is struggling with the doctoral process.  It is clear to me from the Facebook group of Latinas Completing Doctoral Degrees ( that there are plenty of Latinas who are not only moving through the process, but have actually earned the degree.  This is inspiring for us all and I hope this network will continue to support each other.  I keep in my mind the words that my colleague and fellow Latina doctoral student, Omayra Arocho, signed off on a recent email, “Pa' Lante!”