Standing on the Ledge

Today marks the final day of class in my doctoral program. Nothing exciting. I just had to write a five- to seven-page reflection about my study abroad trip.

As I stated previously, the trip was powerful. I had an opportunity to experience a side of Nayarit and the surrounding community that I would never have otherwise seen thanks to Human Connections. And Northern Illinois University.

Looking back on it, this study abroad taught me so much more than my trip to London back in 2001 did. I think the most important thing I learned was the importance of cultural humility, which is the idea that we do not know everything and that we need to be aware of our own position in power balances so that we can navigate situations without hurting others. Honestly, I think that this can help me be a better leader in my work with students, because it reminds me that I can learn so much from others and leverage my privilege to help those who do not have as much as I do.

Even though it meant I had a longer summer semester than my cohort, I am grateful I took advantage of this opportunity. But now that it’s done, I’m in this strange place. On one hand, all that stands between me and graduation is my dissertation. On the other hand, ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN ME AND GRADUATION IS MY DISSER-FRICKEN-TATION.

So, what does that mean?

Well, between now and Aug. 16, I have to revise my research proposal and get it back to my dissertation chair. Once she’s good with it, I have to defend my proposal to my dissertation committee. That’s not at all terrifying.

But once my committee says, Yeah, that sounds like a good project. You seem to know what you’re doing, I actually have to conduct my research. No big deal. (For the record, I’m stress eating M&Ms as I write this.)

Then, once the research is done, I have to write my dissertation. Honestly, I think that’s going to be the easiest part of all of this. But I have to do so much before I get there.

And then once that’s done, I have to defend my dissertation. No big whoop.

My goal is to defend the dissertation by September, conduct the research by the end of November, write everything over winter break, do revisions through January and February, and then defend in March. In short, this next year is probably going to be insane.

But when all is said and done, I’ll be Dr. Kinnaman, which has a nice ring to it.

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