Last year I reflected on how grad school transformed my life into what I call: "my life on the intellectual D-list" (a good thing). I still feel this way. It hasn't gotten old being around such brilliant people, gaining insights into how news is made, books are published, and the inner workings of policy making.
Since then, I completed my required classes for my doctoral degree, learned much about the sociology of gender, families, and work, the life-course perspective, sociological methods, the study of public attitudes, and statistics (not necessarily in order of importance). I've made deeper friendships and enjoyed feeling more settled than my first two years in Maryland. A highlight was being selected by the graduate school for summer funding to work on my own research project. I also started working under a great new advisor and joined the Maryland Population Research Center and UMD's Time Use Laboratory, work I find rewarding. I had blog posts published on The Society Pages: GirlWithPen! and on CCF's Families as They Really Are. I attended the Work and Family Research Network and the American Sociological Association's conferences for the first time and was thrilled to make connections with some of the scholars in my field.
I had mixed feelings about receiving my master's degree. It should be celebratory for sure, but it never felt like a great achievement. I kept thinking about how no one celebrated my accomplishment of working in a non-profit for 2 years, or managing a team of advocates for survivors of domestic violence through the recession, work which was more difficult and stressful than the luxury of higher education. It's unsettling to receive accolades for studying intimate partner violence and social inequality when the individuals living it are the real heroes. As a sociologist, I know that achieving a master's degree is more rare in the general population than it feels in my elite world. I'm trying to hold these mixed feelings simultaneously. It is an achievement to be proud of and it's an incredible opportunity for which I'm entirely grateful. An accreditation also does not define me or others.
The past year has also been a bit bumpy. An advisor I adored moved to Canada (hence the new advisor), a solo authored paper was rejected (twice), I had multiple MRI scans (everything turned out fine), my father-in-law passed away, and my elderly dog is nearing his time. I remain homesick for Seattle. Despite the challenges, graduate school has been incredibly fulfilling. I often marvel at how grateful I am to receive such generous mentorship from so many outstanding individuals. I'm continuously looking forward to my next undertakings. Next year, I take my comprehensive exams, will publish my research (fingers crossed), and start my dissertation.
As always, I am indebted to my supportive partner and loving family.