Hello, my name is Timara McCollum, and I am a first-year PhD student in Educational Psychology & Counseling, with a concentration in Evaluation, Statistics, & Measurement at the University of TN Knoxville. I am also heading towards my 4th year in motherhood academy. My eldest daughter will be four soon, and we will welcome our baby boy this summer!
I wanted to take a moment from balancing my daily intake of tweets, webinars, data-vizzing, meal planning, doll-playing…napping/fighting napping… (thanking goodness she’s potty-trained) …to write a few lessons learned from a first year to fellow parents pursuing PhDs and/or emerging evaluators.
- Say thank you. Say thank you to your child(ren). They are also making a sacrifice and contribution to your doctorate degree. Just this morning, our daughter helped me count the hearts in my data visualization that I was creating for Stephanie Evergreen’s #heartchart challenge. The tradeoff was a game of Feed the Woozle. The trade was worth it to see her smile and light up with affirmation. It also gave her a first glimpse of statistics before she can tie her shoes.
- Say thank you. Say thank you to your support network. Whether it is your spouse, significant other, your parent(s), your cohort, your boss, your small group, your drinking buddies, your fur-babies, your neighbor, whoever it may be that is now reminding you of your purpose or helping take the trash down to the curb. Saying, “thank you,” is so much more meaningful than saying “I’m sorry,” or, “Not right now.” It doesn’t mean you say yes to everything, but it does acknowledge the significant role they play as you make adjustments to your increasingly crunched schedule and stretched mind-space.
- Say thank you. Say thank you to the new mentors you recruit to inspire you along the way. They don’t fall from trees or suddenly appear out of nowhere to provide you with glass slippers to wear to the ball. But they do make adjustments to their own schedules, miss time with their families, and share research agendas with you to help you become the best evaluator you can be.
- Say thank you. Say thank you to the people that motivated you (with all the good, bad, and ugly) to take a step out of your usual and pursue your doctorate. It’s also a little more than slightly satisfying to imagine meeting them at the grocery store and remind them of that time when they knew you when _______.
- Say thank you. Say thank you to yourself for making this amazingly intimidating, but utterly necessary commitment against all odds to attain your dream and pursue your life’s work. You did it. You took the first step, and you can keep taking one step at a time for the next 2…3…4 years until you cross that stage.
And all those people you took the time to say, “thank you,” they will be there too.
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