Monday, January 3, 2011


This post isn't so much about a favorite thing, but a favorite person...

On Monday, December 20th I successfully passed my dissertation proposal defense. With my presentation and the Q&A behind me, I can honestly say it was a very positive experience. On the day of my defense, I was a mess, to say the least. Three hours before my presentation, I had a dress rehearsal in front of one of my classmates. During said rehearsal, I discovered that one section of my proposal (dealing with analysis of gene-environment interactions and a possible three-way interaction) was extremely confusing. I panicked, but my good friend helped me to simplify my thoughts and reword my slides. With less than an hour to go until my presentation I was fairly calm - I ate lunch and goofed off on my computer. I began my final preparations about 20 minutes before my presentation was scheduled to begin and I freaked out. I forgot to make copies of my slides for my committee and I started to sweat.

I watched as my committee members, faculty, and students entered the room.

I started sweating even more.

I was so glad I went with the black and white dress with a pattern on it instead of the solid black dress. I'm sure I would have had visible salty-sweat rings around the colar and under my arms had I worn the black dress.

I was visibly nervous.

That is when one of my committee members came up to me and spoke these magical words:

"You are ready for this. We wouldn't have let you come this far if we were not sure you could pass. Remember to talk slowly. Take a moment to think before answering any question. And remember to smile. You know more about your topic than anyone in the room. Be proud."

She completely put me at ease.

She smiled as I began my presentation. And she smiled throughout.

She asked me tough, but fair questions. And she always prefaced her questions with a complement. For example, she'd say something along the lines of, "you did a wonderful job explaining X, could you provide the same level of detail about Y."

Her tone and encouragement were life-giving.

She saved me from possibly losing my mind before and during my defense.

On top of that, she volunteered to be one of my official readers for my final defense. This means she will have to read, edit, and provide constructive input for my entire written dissertation within two weeks of my final defense. This is a huge and time-consuming responsibility. And she volunteered with a smile on her face.

She is definitely my favorite teacher of 2010.

She is also on her way to being my favorite teacher of 2011...

This morning I bumped into her and instead of greeting me with a customary "Happy New Year", she greeted me with, "at the end of this year, we'll be calling you doctor."
Talk about making my day.

I'm going to finish my PhD in 2011.

Three cheers for my favorite teacher and all of her words of encouragement both this year and last ---

hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray!

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