Sunday, November 2, 2014

Autocorrect is Wrong: My Dissertation IS NOT in Disarray

My Beautiful Writing Group: Helping Each Other Stay Focused

I type the word "dissertation" into my iPhone at least twice a day while searching, texting, and communicating with my rather large support group who are with me on my journey to doctora. The Latinas Completing Doctoral Degrees Facebook group now has over 900 members and counting.

Without fail, the autocorrect function, which is usually spot on (yeah right) wants to change the word "dissertation" to "disarray" every time. It got me thinking about the doctoral process in the midst of real life. No matter how focused I try to stay, life happens and then it does begin to feel like my dissertation is in complete disarray.

I recently violated one of the many deadly sins of dissertation writing: I started a new job! Forget about disarray, the dissertation process was at a complete standstill for a whole month while I got acclimated to my new role as Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that happened because of my dissertation and I could not pass it up. Yes, it's true. While gathering data for my dissertation on how race, ethnicity and gender impact the career path and aspirations of Latinas in mid-level administration in student affairs, I discovered some of my own self-imposed limited aspirations. These amazing 26 Latinas who participated in my study provided a much needed mirror for me that showed me how much I had been doubting my professional experience and not reaching for senior level leadership positions.

Without revealing too much of my findings since I am writing about those in my dissertation, it became clear that I was putting my career in the hands of others while I should have been taking control and putting myself out there. So I started applying for positions I once thought were too lofty for me and for which I did not previously think I would be qualified. My research made it clear to me that I was qualified and the amazing thing that happened was that not only was I getting called for first round interviews, I made it to finalist consideration for two senior level positions and ultimately I accepted one of them.

Despite having changed jobs during the dissertation process, thus somewhat delaying the process for me, I have no regrets. I love my new position and I am back on track with my writing thanks to three supportive Latinas and members of the Latinas Completing Doctoral Degree Facebook group, with whom I formed a writing group over the summer.  We have all been encouraging, nudging and what I like to call, having chancleta moments to keep us motivated. (chancleta means sandal in Spanish and a form of parental discipline some of us in the group instantly recognized).

I am exactly where I need to be and I honored my research by taking action in my life because of it. I wouldn't have it any other way. My journey continues and I do see the light at the end of the tunnel with a bonus advancement in my career to boot!