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My First Year as a Doctoral Student

Jaci GriffenJaci Griffen
My first year as a doctoral student began as a journey of self-discovery which can be best summed up by a quote from a colleague: "We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance.  As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."  I wondered, was I really vulnerable enough to open up and be willing to learn not only from my professors but from my colleagues in the program?  As a naturally shy person, displaying my foibles for all to see was a formidable challenge.  A blog (it can be found at: jacigriffen.weebly.com) I created as part of an Applied Inquiry I assignment helped me over that hurdle.  Not only did it create a safe space in which I could work out my questions and thoughts, it served as a tool to help me connect with colleagues.  I have learned that sometimes it is easier to communicate through writing than face to face in class. 

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new material to be read, new ideas to digest as well as numerous new and emerging internal and external dialogues.  As I end the first year my advice to those just starting is to: 1) set aside dedicated time each week to read and write; 2) find a way to involve your family (mine responded to my blog posts) it keeps both of you invested and engaged in the process; 3) slow down and enjoy the journey (this is difficult as you will want to get to the endgame "the dissertation"); 4) be inclusive and make time for friends and colleagues.  This program has broadened my outlook to ideas and ways of thinking I never really knew existed.  I look forward to the coming year as new doors open and new waters are explored.  Most importantly, keep rowing!