|Top left: Cindy Bautista-Thomas, Top right: Cindy & her children, Bottom left: Sisters Cindy & Sofia, Bottom right: Cindy & husband Winston|
Sunday, October 6, 2013
My First Five Weeks in a Ph.D. Program by Cindy Bautista-Thomas
This week marks five weeks of being a doctoral student. Today I had my first meeting with my advisor who happens to be a dynamite Latina who is a powerhouse in the area that I am interested in exploring further: emergent bilinguals and academic outcomes. Before the meeting I went to her website (yes, she has her own website!) and read up on her current research and perused a few of her articles. I wanted to be prepared in case she asked me a question about her research. During our meeting she didn't ask about the research but did ask me how I was doing and how I was managing it all. I shared with her my joys and challenges of the program so far and she related to my experiences as a doctoral student with many layers. She provided encouragement and gave me suggestions of who to network within and out of the program. I felt invigorated after our meeting.
When I got accepted into the program it was she who sent me the email at 10 o'clock at night. A day later she asked me to start reading some of her work as she hoped that she and I would write articles together! Write an article together? Was she sure that she was writing to the right doctoral candidate? And there began my short lived self doubt journey. I sat in my classes, prepared with notes from my readings and often froze in my seat. I wondered if what I had to say was smart enough or important enough to contribute to the discourse taking place. It was my sister Sofia who reminded me that I was smart enough, good enough and had gotten accepted into the program due to my own merit.
As I spoke with other Latina doctoral students I realized that what I had experienced was quite common for students of color and decided right then and there that when I had something to contribute that I would do so, con orgullo y seguridad!
Juggling a full time job, three children, a husband and a doctoral program is not for the weak and weary. I look to my family and God for support and would not be able to do this otherwise. While it hasn't been easy declining social gatherings with friends and family, I have found it challenging to balance it all. It's a work in progress! With a birthday right around the corner I am grateful and blessed for another year of discovering myself.