My journey to #EdDucatingMRL began with the recognition of a thought, and the belief of what I see as an absolute. A keen awareness of the fact that I drink from a well that I did not dig was central to my decision to further my education. Unfortunately, all too often, our society is fast paced, me-centric, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Many lose sight of the fact that we ALL are beneficiaries in some way, shape, or form of those who came before us.
I recognize that I have been a beneficiary of the time, energy, and effort put forth by others. A large part of my decision to get a terminal degree was rooted in my desire to equip myself with the body of knowledge, skills, and tool-set that will allow me to put myself in a position where I can have maximum impact on the lives of others. Namely, moving beyond ‘having a seat at the table’ to being able to set the agenda for what is discussed at the table.
The Experience…Is What It Is
As I type this, I find myself in the midst of the second semester of my first year of doctoral work. The experience thus far has been everything that I anticipated, expected, heard it would be – and more. This past semester and a half has been (and continues to be) exhilarating yet overwhelming, informative and eye opening, and yes, humbling, yet filled with experiences that leave you with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. If you are thinking about embarking on this journey, do so with an awareness of the fact that it is doable, but it is work.
You will read (a lot) and you will write (a lot). Additionally be prepared to think deeply and critically about what you know, understand, perceive, and believe. The process of participating in the construction of knowledge is a challenging task. Therefore, it cannot and should not be undertaken lightly. As a life-long learner, I revel in the opportunity to be engaged in the process of growth and development with my fellow learning associates as we walk down the road of becoming practitioner scholars. That being said, this process is a challenge nonetheless.
What’s Your Why?
One of the best pieces of advice I got prior to beginning this journey was having a good sense of my ‘why.’ Why did I want to do this, why now, and what was I looking for. I aspire to be a change agent. I hope to support others in being their best selves and doing their best work. Finally, I aspire to be in a position where I have the ability to effect and enact change on a macro level within my institution. While I am proud of the change that I have been able to bring about in the past in my previous institutions, I aspire to be in a leadership role that will allow me to have a greater level of influence in the foundational policies, practices, and procedures of my institution.
Really. What’s Your Why?
Having a sense of this why has allowed me to stay focused and committed to the task at hand. During the doctoral process, I am balancing being a husband, dad to two daughters, full time student, full time director, supervisor and any number of other roles. My why has been an anchor to keep me grounded during late nights, early mornings, and some limited family time.
Some may disagree, but I’m a firm believer that getting a doctoral degree ‘for the sake of getting the paper’ is tenuous at best. At worst, it is an ill-informed reason to walk down this road. I concede that ‘getting the paper’ for the sake of it, can be a reason, but based on my experience and conversations with others, there needs to be a bit more why. You will invest a lot of time, energy and effort into this endeavor. My suggestion: have a good sense of why, and be able to articulate ‘what’ will happen or come as a result.
As a black male, I’m regularly inundated with messages about who and what I am, am not, can and cannot be. I am reminded that my sheer blackness can be seen as a threat. My presence alone can be seen as cause for concern. My ability to be articulate and have a mastery of the English language is considered uniquely impressive. Beyond some of the reasons I gave above, the process of #EdDucatingMRL is about me. But it is also about and represents so much more. It is about affirming my fellow brothers and my community. It’s about cultivating a new narrative. It is about preparing to challenge a system. It is an opportunity for me to fully and without hesitation Be.
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.