I have birthed two babies while in my doctoral program. This wasn’t planned. But this is my life. For the last five years there has been a reoccurring theme…perseverance. I’ve learned a lot along the way but here’s a few tips I would give my fellow doctoral candidates and future doctoral students.
Build a support system
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have supportive and loving people around you during this process. You will not be able to do this alone. No one does this doctoral thing alone. I have friends I can vent to. I have baby sitters on call and in my Rolodex. My spouse at times kicks in overdrive and daddy duties are at its’ peak. My parents continuously tell me how great I am, even when I don’t feel great. It takes a village. Build your village. Get a team. And use them.
Have faith but do the work
There will be many times you want to give up. You may feel you are not smart enough. There might be times you do not believe you deserve this opportunity. Faith can take you a long way. Believe until it happens. But you also must put in the work. Work harder than you ever have. Read more than you want to and write more than you have to. I have had several mentors tell me “If it was easy, everyone would have a Ph. D.” Push yourself and have faith. With a little more work than average, you will be surprised how far you can go. I know I was.
Go with the flow
When I started my program eight months pregnant, I expected structure to help me become a great student, supervisor, mom and wife. I soon learned that I was putting more stress on myself. I quickly adjusted to relaxing and enjoying the process of learning, raising my children and being a supportive and loving wife and I began to go with the flow. Trust that whatever life throws at you, you are equipped to handle it. Within five years I birthed a second son, watched my grandmother, aunt and mother-in-law pass away from heath issues, got a job promotion, quit my job, moved to another city and reached a milestone of being married for 10 years. And guess what? I’m still in my doctoral program and expected to graduate in 2018!
So remember this. You. Can. Do. This.
This post is part of our #SADocsofColor series for March. The journey towards obtaining a doctorate degree is long and arduous. This series highlights the stories of those on that journey that identify as men and women of color; stories which aren’t always told and stories that are important.