Sunday, October 6, 2013

Guest Blogger Cindy Bautista-Thomas: Emerging Scholar Starting with Getting a Ph.D!

Top left: Cindy Bautista-Thomas, Top right: Cindy & her children, Bottom left: Sisters Cindy & Sofia, Bottom right: Cindy & husband Winston
A few blog entries ago, titled The Courage to Restart and Recommit, I shared my admiration and pride in my sister’s courage to embark on some new beginnings, including a second marriage and a Ph.D. program.  I am so excited for her and was curious to know how things were going for her so far.  She was gracious enough to share her thoughts about her first five weeks in her doctoral program. Please read and help me send her positive energy as she continues her journey to be Doctora Cindy Bautista-Thomas and an early happy birthday too. Pa’lante hermanita!   

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.