Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three Words

While I was waiting for my photography class to start last night I decided to head up to the 10th floor to visit the Sociology department and see if there was anything interesting going on. I got off the elevator and started looking at the list of new publications and presentations, and then as I was walking over to check out the other bulletin board the photo board caught my eye. The photo board has pictures of all currently enrolled graduate students. Mine was still up there, but it had been moved to a new section. The "Not in Residence" section.

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See? There I am, right in the middle. Look how happy and excited and hopeful I was when this picture was taken - fall of 2004, MA student orientation. I knew I was going to be kind of a big deal. I had goals, and I was going to be the best and make a difference and help change people's lives through important research and policy recommendations.

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Sigh. I did meet my first goal, which was to finish my MA in two years, a rare accomplishment. I took extra courses, wrote tons of papers, and developed a love and appreciation for statistics and research methods. I found a thesis topic that was dear to my heart and could be spun into a million different dissertations. I presented at conferences, co-authored papers, and defended my thesis in front of some pretty tough critics.

And then I left. I left to take a paying job in the corporate world. I left to have affordable health insurance and a real paycheck and a 401(k) and paid sick time and vacation. But I was still going to finish my PhD, that was for sure. And I was going to finish it by 2010.

It's 2010 now. I had forgotten about that self-imposed deadline until I saw that picture last night. Life got in the way. Some of that was Good Life, and I wouldn't trade it for all the PhDs in the world. But then there's that piece of me (growing larger by the day) that completely regrets leaving the academic community. You see, to them, I committed a serious affront. I sold my soul, dug up my roots, and there's no going back. It's kind of a big deal. And now the research I do makes a difference only to the bottom line of companies, rather than to the population that needs help the most.

1 comment:

  1. Wow... you're being too hard on yourself. There is always time to go back and finish your goals. I have a friend who is ONE CREDIT away from her bachelor's degree, but you know what? She'll finish it when she's ready.

    As for you, I have a ton of respect that you're even on the ROAD to your Ph.D. That's my goal (eventually), and I'm no where close.

    Confessions From A Working Mom



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