Just like basketball – or a union for that matter – jumping through the hoops of a Ph.D. requires a team. Yesterday was my birthday, and as I watched my facebook page fill up with comments from friends, family, students, colleagues, and surprisingly enough, high school friends who I found or found me after 20 years of silence – I realized how lucky I am to have so many people on my team.
I ran into a student a couple of days ago that was in my journalism design class last semester. She was the first one I had seen since I received my teaching evaluations, which were some of the best I’ve ever received. It was a curious thing – I was so scattered and unorganized and forgetful because it was the same semester I took comps. But, I thought back and remembered how happy I was to see my students every Tuesday and Thursday – how it was a welcomed break from the hours of studying and stressing that I might actually have to go through the comps process again. I thanked my student, who happened to be one I chatted with quite often throughout the semester, and she then thanked me for encouraging her to get that internship, which was turning out to be one of the “best moves I’ve ever made.”
So as I scrolled past all of those comments from students who have made such an impact on my life, I came across old friends and family who had taken a few seconds out of their incredibly busy day to tell me they were thinking of me. My mother, who drove 4 hours for a surprise visit, could not believe the number of messages and visits to my page. And, as I watched her face fill with that look of pride that I first saw when I brought home my first scribble of a drawing from kindergarten, I realized that it was this woman in front me that taught me that life requires the work of a team. It reminded me of the years growing up, when a single, divorced woman – not necessarily the most popular idea in the mid-70s – faced the world not by herself as a single mom, but with a team by her side – her roommate also in her early 20s who agreed to live with a kid that wasn’t hers; her 4 siblings who spent hours upon hours playing with the only grandchild while she worked, sometimes two jobs, so she could give me the things I needed; her parents who would stop their daily routine just to pick a girl up from school. Every achievement I’ve ever been blessed with was with the support of the team – I’d always known this, but never quite articulated it.
So jumping through this final hoop is just like all the rest of them throughout my life. But now, it seems, I have more support than ever. And I haven’t even mentioned the support of my husband and daughter at home who sacrifice daily for me to finish this degree or my very good friend Kenna who gives me that little kick of encouragement I need to finish the next project. (She herself is about to truly understand the process of jumping through hoops and when I graduate, maybe she should take over this blog.)
So, as B.A. Baracus from the A-Team said, “I pity the fool who goes out traying’ a’take over da world, then runs home cryin’ to his momma!” The fool should’ve known he couldn’t do it by himself.