Education is the passport to the future and I am obtaining my final stamp when I started my doctoral program this past June for one week from 9a-5p each day.Despite the 45 minute commute, I appreciated the quiet time with the Most High on the trip over to my university. Reflection seemed to be the keys for the morning as I viewed my journey throughout my life and questioned many of the encounters that I’ve had growing up. Experiencing racism at an early age, hustling and making money with my father, and more all prepared me for this journey that I was embarking. God stayed faithful the whole entire way and never let me down. If he didn’t let me down any other time in my life, why would He start now?
Prior to walking into the classroom for the first time, nerves came over me and I wondered if I turned away, would anyone notice? I put invested time, energy, effort AND money for this day! I HAVE to walk into that room with my head held high and my mind as focused as a laser. I looked around the classroom to see the beautiful mix of ages, experiences, and life with my cohort members.
I met the other nine members in my cohort who bring such diverse experiences in life as well as ethnicity. Our program is known for having 8 out of 10 people of color in the history of the department and its an exciting time to be alive! That first week of doctoral studies opened a new found identity for me that I was not expecting. To think in 2009, I said that I could never see myself getting a Master’s or a doctorate and I’m 2 for 2 right now. Learning about epistemologies, the intricacies of scholarly writing, and understanding the life of a doctoral student created a wealth of conversations with my lady as she embarked on her first few week of classes. I struggled in gaining my confidence especially when we had our first two assignments and members in my cohort stressed out. I felt that I was not prepared or I wasn’t taking this journey seriously, however, one of my cohort members encouraged me that I had the right frame of mind by not stressing.
My cohort members and I created a good bond with one another by going out to lunch/drinks after class to discuss the end of each day and learning about one another. We realized early on that the key to all of our success in the program would be to connect with one another and support each other throughout the journey. I learned about my cohort members’ relationships, family, goals, and accomplishments. To say that my cohort has a wealth of experiences in life is an understatement. One cohort member has a school in Ghana, another has worked all around the world and lives in Haiti (yes, they travel once a month to come to class from Haiti), another is a pastor’s wife, and we have a Dean of Students just to name a few folks. When I say I am inspired by the other members in my program, I only speak the truth.
During the course of the week, assignments continued to be thrown at me from article critiques to writing reflections about my experiences. I had to remind myself that I am capable of accomplishing this difficult journey and shouldn’t be deterred. However, the imposter syndrome kicks in every now and then to undermine you and you have to block that out as soon as possible. The doctoral journey is not for the faint of heart and requires perseverance to never say quit! Like Jay Z says, “I WILL NOT LOSE!”