Last week, I became a PhD candidate.

{please applaud now}

For those of you wise, wise souls who avoided grad school and don’t know that this means: I have finished my course work and can now focus on my research and eventual writing of my dissertation.

This was a long time coming: 3 years of coursework, 1 Master’s thesis (well if you count my work at UCI, make that 4 years of coursework and 2 MA theses), a language exam, a field statement, 2 syllabi, an explanation of one of those syllabi, 1 dissertation prospectus, and a 3 hour oral exam.


Most of this work felt like it happened in the last 6 months. While I wrote a draft of my dissertation prospectus last year, the rest of the Qualifying Exam dossier (field statement, syllabi and attachment, and prospectus) I wrote largely in the last two quarters.

studying for exam.

After I got the OK on my written work, I submitted the dossier to my four committee members and took a mini break (mostly to catch up on my other work for seminar and my TA responsibilities). Then back to focusing on the oral exam. I felt pretty good about it until the weekend before when I started imagining all the worst possible scenarios. I crammed for about 3 days straight. But the exam wasn’t so bad after all. After I settled in, it went by surprisingly fast and felt more like a conversation than scary test.

After passing, I went out with some friends who helped me celebrate. And then two days later, I picked up a stack of final exams to grade. (I took a break to help a good friend celebrate her receiving of a doctorate in Ecology and to run a race, more about that on a future post). Today I submitted the grades, enjoyed brunch with my professor, and can now officially enjoy summer!


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