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The Final Oral Defense, The Final Step

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 10:25 AM

 

I did not know what to expect on the final step, a meeting with faculty that determines if you get the degree you spent years to prepare and complete. Like the prelims, four days of testing, I did not know what to expect. What could go wrong? It would last about two to four hours. I was petrified. I never heard of not passing and being able to try again. It might be possible, I did not know. I was at the mercy of others whims, not a good feeling when you fail at common easy tasks, like remembering someone's name, or the grocery list.

 

The day came, they were all in a room. I was brought in. How intimidating. a bunch of men, some I did not know. I soon found out they were from the Child Clinical part of the Clinical Psych department. They were there to defend or challenge me.

 

To be honest, I can not really remember much. They fired a bunch of questions at me, I answered but can not say what. I think I was numb. Years of preparation, set backs galore, tons of time and money all balancing on the whims of a group of men.

 

In a fog I remember them saying my degree was awarded or granted or something. I knew I had made it. I was breathless. I couldn't breath. I was so glad when they all left and i stood in the hall alone, a new Ph.D. The first thought that came to my mind as tears came to my eyes was I knew I did not have to do Kindergarden all over again, nor first grade when I got sick and returned to discover I did not know what my box of words were, that I had forgotten what I had learned, when I could not even find the bathroom, or lunch room, when everything became strange and unknown and very very difficult. That would never go away, but I did not have to start over from the beginning anymore. I could now compete at an equal level with others. I had three jobs already, but I had not been validated by a school like this final validation. The nightmare was over and the dawn had begun.

Now the jobs had become my next challenge. I never realized how hard it would be to insist on high standards and quality that I had gotten at the Ph.D level. Politics can be devastating, much worse then getting a Ph.D.

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