dissertation DOCTOR
How does it feel to finally finish?

Dr. Sally,

I wanted to send you a note to give you an update on my graduation party this weekend. It was really wonderful!!! Right before I left, a friend who had defended last year told me that he had felt awkward about a party just as I had, but when he expressed this to his family they told him, "This party isn't for you -- it's for us. We've had to go through all of the ups and downs with this process and we need a party now that it's over." That really put things in a great perspective for me and I went into the whole experience just wanting to enjoy what was happening.

I can tell you that the party and the whole weekend were overwhelming in the most positive of ways. I got to see family and friends of our family I had not seen in years. My brother and his sons came from Florida and it was so neat to see them so excited about getting to be a part of it all. Everyone was so nice and so generous. I got some fantastic gifts -- very nice jewelry from my godmother, neat bookends, quite a bit of money from other relatives (enough to take a nice mini trip somewhere), etc. Everyone there was so happy for me -- it was like ME-fest 2000. It couldn't have gone better.

Also, since news has gotten out about the Ph.D., I've heard from several people I haven't seen for years. I even got a surprise phone call from my best friend from grade school/high school and we now are planning to meet sometime in the next year.

I'm starting to realize that this really was a BIG DEAL. A few people at the party approached me and mentioned that they had never had a friend or family member who had a doctorate. I keep forgetting this is kind of rare since I am surrounded by Ph.D.s given the work I do. Also, I come from a working class/middle class background. Not many adults I knew as a kid had gone to college. In grad school I sometimes felt like some things were harder for me to figure out because I didn't have a preconception, whereas a lot of my grad school friends had parents who were themselves Ph.D.s and seemed to know the ropes better.

After the party was over, I realized I needed to give myself credit for doing something that was really different than what people from my neighborhood/family had ever done before. Also, I realized that much of the pride people felt at that party was pride for the family in general. That whenever anyone in our extended family does something really neat, it reflects well on all of us.

It is going to be hard to get back to reality and have to deal with the fact that the positive attention is going to die down slowly and fade away soon :-) I think I'm getting spoiled!




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