In The Club With Dr. Seuss And Dr. Dre
I just defended my dissertation. I know that people do it every day, but it has put me on a high and in a haze. I never dreamt of pursuing a doctorate when I was young. I dreamt of going to college. I was a first-generation college student, motivated by two parents who did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education. So off to college I went the fall after high school not knowing how much life would get in my way. Eleven long, challenging years later I received my bachelor’s degree. My career, although already in progress, saw a great boost after I finished and I was thankful and pleased to not have to juggle so much in my life.
Ten years later moving forward had stopped. Everywhere I turned I was faced with my lack of a graduate degree. I began taking night classes in a master’s program, rather reluctantly. I was older now, dragging myself to class after work, fighting to stay awake and spending my weekends doing homework. But something happened to change my path – I had a professor who made known the potential she saw in me. It sparked my desire and fueled my drive, making the juggling much easier! Close to the end of my master’s program, she spoke to me about pursuing a doctorate and shared her experience of doctoral education at 40 years old.
So here I am representing the kind of complexity of many adult learners. I am a 53 year old, small business woman who also teaches college courses part time. I have taken the risks related to being an ‘old dog’ trying to learn new tricks, I’ve fallen asleep in a chair less than 20 minutes after returning home from a long day of work and study, I’ve pulled a few ‘all-nighters’ trying to get all the work done and paid for it for days afterward, recuperating slowly. I’ve lost time for relaxation, socializing and most importantly time with family. These are the risks and losses that adult learners incur. I know a bit about this not only from my own experience but from my research as well. You see, adult learners were the people I have been studying in my doctoral research. It’s been a wonderful reward to study adults and now to share what I’ve learned. We are a misunderstood population in education, on the margins… sliding into class after dark.
During my doctoral studies, I had to ask everyone for help and was blessed to receive it. In addition to my family, friends and colleagues, I received tremendous support from my doctoral program and found a new mentor and friend in my Chair. It was a wonderful day this past week when I defended my dissertation. I felt so passionately about the work that I had done and about the adult learners I had studied. I was surrounded by so many family members, friends and colleagues who each contributed so much to my journey, making my success possible. I never imagined that I would be completing a doctoral program at this age and stage in life. I never imagined that I would a Doctor! Here I am in the club, ‘imagining the places you’ll go’ with Dr. Seuss and kicking up some new beats with Dr. Dre.
Author Perspective: Student