I achieved that long awaited doctoral degree last year, moved with the whole family to Tampa, Florida, and immersed myself into the University of Tampa ID&T Graduate program, the BEAUTIFUL University (campus and people) from which both of my children graduated. For the part of the story you may not know... Several years ago I decided to pursue my doctoral degree once I saw that my children were nearing the end of their four-year degree. Of course, I intended on using it to support myself and any family members who might still need my support no matter how old or young they were (especially since the family tends to live into our hundreds); but, my primary intent, spoken or not, was for a greater good. Prior to entering the program, I wrote down my purpose in life. It was to "Make a difference. Better a life." People say how "lucky" my children and I are to be residing in the same location we aimed to be, with jobs we chose. Certainly, luck does have something to do with it, but we also created the opportunities with intentionality, determination, hard work, persistence, care and authenticity in all that we did and all that we do. Of course, I am also daily on my knees in gratitude and continued prayer as I know the plan was clearly laid out for us. It was just up to us to keep getting up and moving forward, no matter how tired we were.
Thus, I write this for you, dear students, for my loved ones, family, friends, and anyone exasperated by the workload and worry on the plate today. I had a former professor who shared something to the effect on day one of our doctoral program that it was going to be hard; but, if it were easy, everyone would do it. My Chair, who I now refer to as my academic mother, promised it would be worth it. I didn't think too much of those words then. I just wanted the degree so as not be a burden to anyone as I aged, and I wanted the title to make a difference in others' lives. At the time, I didn't understand why research was so important or why I had to do eight zillion annotations and lit reviews.
What I can tell you now only through experiential learning is that pushing yourself further than you ever imagined produces rewards beyond the human language. Consider it like articulating love. Only after I held my first born in my hand could I look into the eyes of my parents to communicate my understanding of the unconditional love I had been given but now new. Likewise, only after all the sleepless nights and years of consistent focus went into achieving the terminal degree am I able to look at my peers and nod in understanding that we've all done it for a greater good.
Keep going to become the best version of you in mind, body and soul, dear students, family, friends, and anyone exasperated by what today brings.
I promise it's worth it.