Looking Back....April 2017
Normally when a new month starts I ask myself where the previous month went. But in this case, I know exactly where April went. It went in a haze of prospectus writing and revising and working towards the last step in earning my candidacy. So let's rewind to the beginning of the month and recap everything I've done and learned...
|April means spring flowers here in the desert,|
At the start of the month I got to take a day trip with my dad down to our family home in Sierra Vista. After all the stress in March of my comp exam it was nice to be able to take some time to get out of Phoenix and enjoy the Arizona scenery and blue skies that go on for miles. I had to bring some homework with me, but it was still a great break from my usual schedule and a nice way to start the month. Plus I don't get to spend much time with my dad these days, so it's nice to be able to spend a day with him. As I progress through my PhD, graduation is getting closer and closer and I'm pretty certain that I will be moving out of the state after I graduate, so spending time with my family is feeling even more important now that my time living so close to them is starting to feel like it's nearing the end.
|Mountain scenery down by State Route 90 on our way to Sierra Vista.|
Then we had Easter. Which was another great chance to spend some time with my family. We didn't do anything extravagant, just had a quiet day at home with my family and the doggies. We had great food, mom made a ham and cheesy potatoes (a long time family favorite) as well as the traditional Easter bread. It wouldn't be Easter without that bread lol. Mom's made it every year for as long as I can remember. It's based on a traditional Italian family recipe that her dad made when she was growing up. So yummy! It was a great day and just so nice to hang out at home with everyone.
|Tulips for Easter!|
By the middle of the month I was firmly in the prospectus writing process. What a daunting process that was! After years of thinking about my dissertation trying to actually describe what I will be doing was so overwhelming. I was no longer thinking about it abstractly but having to really think about the step by step process I would need to take to do the research and actually write the dissertation. As PhD students, we spend so much time thinking generally about our research project and when people ask us what our dissertation will be we usually have a 2 sentence summary of what we'll be looking at, but for the prospectus I had to take those 2 sentences and expand it to 20 pages explaining my project in great detail! Not an easy thing to do.
I finally had gotten the prospectus far enough along that my advisor was willing to let me schedule my colloquy. The colloquy is basically a formal meeting between me and my dissertation committee where we sit down and go over my prospectus, section by section, and discuss any questions or issues any of us have. This is the BIG MEETING. This is when they decide I'm ready to start the dissertation and I get ABD status. ABD is "All But Dissertation", it's also when I earn my candidacy and become a PhD Candidate, instead of a PhD student. The difference between student and candidate may seem like a minor distinction to some, but it's actually a pretty big deal, so a lot was riding on the colloquy. But I wasn't nervous, I was pretty excited. I just wanted it to be time for the meeting and have that discussion.
|The night before colloquy, jotting down some final notes and general prep.|
The colloquy was on the 26th and went great. It was definitely overwhelming and they had some pretty tough questions. But we also arrived at some really helpful conclusions and I feel a million times more focused on what I'm going to be doing. It was great to get their perspective and help on some of the problems I knew I was having. We took the full time allotted, an hour and a half, but it flew by and before I knew it, it was all done and they were all checking "pass" on the form, which I then took to the 5th floor to the program manager for her to sign off and submit. By the end of the day I had the official email from the graduate college congratulating me on achieving candidacy.
|I did it! I still can't quite believe it, but I did it. I'm officially ABD.|
Now, a few days later, I'm still processing it all. In a lot of ways it feels like nothing's changed, but in other ways it's like being in a whole different place. It really is the weirdest feeling and one that I can't completely describe just yet. I'm trying to give myself some time to think and breath and reset myself. I've got a few things to finish up for the semester, still have grading to do for my students lol, but that should all be wrapped up by Tuesday. I'll probably take the rest of the week off. I desperately need a bit of a vacation. But us PhD students know, there's no rest for the weary. I honestly need a month off but I can't take it. I need to start my dissertation research and getting ready to start drafting chapters. I have no idea how to write a dissertation, I'm in uncharted territory and feel like I'm starting a whole new adventure. It's going to be a very interesting summer for sure. But I definitely want to give myself at least a few days to just do nothing (which is why I'm hoping to wrap up the semester by the end of Monday so I can have nearly a full week to rest). I did take some time on Friday to go to the cinema and saw The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, definitely a film worth checking out. And then did some shopping at Swarovski and bought myself a sparkly gift and then got one of my favorite cupcakes at Caketini.
|Celebrating ABD at Zinc Bistro|
Thank you as well to those of you who read this blog and follow my journey on Instagram or YouTube. It's been a crazy semester and you've been with me every step of the way. I appreciate your support more than I can express. You all really are the best ever! If you want to see my whole month in about 30 seconds, check out the video below from the 1 Second Everyday app.