Master of Arts sash, 2005
A few months ago, I posted the following:
While I was waiting for Chispa’s graduation to start on Saturday, a thought came to mind.
My parents weren’t at my graduation last year. They didn’t see me walk across the stage or hear the dean actually pronounce my last name correctly. There are no pictures of me in a cap and gown flashing a huge smile between my mom and dad. There’s not even a picture of me and my sister. Danny and Adrian, my brothers, were the only ones who could attend. (To be fair, I decided at the last minute that I’d be participating in the ceremony.)
I decided on Saturday afternoon that I want my parents to see me graduate again. Maybe that will help me get back on track with this thing called school.
Even after writing that, I couldn’t find my increasingly elusive ganas (motivation). I informally checked out of school and classes.
I didn’t completely drop school and made a half ass attempt at finding mis ganas. At the Raza Graduation, I sat on stage and listened to Dr. Katy, one of three PhD students participating in the ceremony. She spoke about participating in the ceremony four years earlier when she earned her MA. Katy said, “When I heard her [a PhD student] speak, I decided then and there that I wanted to finish and come back to Raza Grad as a PhD.” Nice words, but not quite what I needed.
I spent the long summer talking my issues out with peers and a therapist. I spoke to anyone I trusted and who knew me well enough to know this wasn’t just a phase. Thankfully, I have a lot of good listeners in my circle of friends (undoubtedly related to many of their backgrounds as counselors). No one told me what to do, but they did make suggestions and asked helpful questions.
I didn’t talk to anyone before making my first decision last week. I tried to sleep late Monday night, but couldn’t and got out of bed. I emailed my advisor’s secretary to set up an appointment. I needed to talk to my advisor about filling out any paperwork required to formally withdraw. I decided to be a PhD drop out.
But something strange happened between 3 am Tuesday and 3 pm on Wednesday when I met with my advisor.
Perhaps there’s a guardian angel for graduate students who was looking out for me.
When I woke up, I found an email from Erica, my pseudo-mentor and recent graduate of the program. I replied to her cheery “what’s up, Pucca?” email with a more somber explanation of my recent decision. That evening I told a fellow grad student and good friend, Arshad, about my decision. I couldn’t see his face over instant messenger, but I knew his words “shouldn’t we talk about this?” meant he was concerned. We did talk, but didn’t get too far.
I wrote out some of what I needed to tell my advisor on Tuesday night. I was less sure of my earlier decision and knew I couldn’t drop out without talking to my advisor and getting her feedback.
On Wednesday morning, Erica called from ~2,000 miles away. “You know, I’m on the stay in school tip, but I also want you to be happy,” she said. Our conversation was more like a counseling session and it was just what I needed. A few hours later, I spoke to my advisor. She was supportive, helpful and said everything I needed to hear.
I took me four months, but I made my decision last week. I’m sticking it out. Some day, you all will get to call me Dr. Cindylu.