Where I’m from, the idea of being Dr. typically is a mythological term reserved for those with only the brightest imaginations. The constant remembrance of that notion is a subtle, yet powerful, form of motivation for me in the midst of every literature review, qualitative analysis, or assigned reading. Doubly, it reminds me that just because there was, doesn’t mean there will be.
As a (Black) second year doctoral student in the Higher Education Leadership program at Florida Atlantic University, I’m a persistent reminder for those on the outside looking to follow in my footsteps that commitment and discipline can yield great results. For those enveloped in the program with me, I am a constant reminder that they are not alone. I say that not to place myself on a pedestal, but to reframe your perspective to understand that as a Black academic in a traditionally non-Black space, you have a purpose. Your purpose may be unbeknownst to you, either through naïve ignorance or intentional ignorance. But whether you acknowledge it or not, it is there. Purpose is more often than not thrust upon you, so that you may not realize it is there. Yet it drives others to action.
A real-life reminder
Recently, I encountered a young black male undergraduate student, who I didn’t know personally. He knew of me through departmental chatter about my research with Black males and spirituality. The student approached me saying he appreciated my research because it highlighted men like him. He said he struggled with bringing his spirituality into a place that culturally did not connect with him. It was such a simple, but powerful gesture for him to seek me out to inform me of how personally connected he felt to my research. Affirmations such as these help me connect my purpose to others’ purposes. The perpetual connection between individuals drives progress and motivation that eventually reaches that young person in the depths of a place similar to where I’m from, making the notion of Dr. a pragmatic ideal.