Many have asked me recently if I have completed my Ph.D., the answer is a big NO, but I wanted to share here the program requirements, if only to remind myself of how far I've come and that I will hopefully (on Friday) be “Dr. Thomas” and done with my Ph.D. journey.
There is a lot on the line. My job at BGSU is contingent upon it, not to mention the fact I’ve invested nearly six years of studies and about $40,000 into this degree. The other day I finally got paid. (At BGSU we get 9 paychecks a year.) Shayne said with a smile, “Your degree was really expensive, but now it’s all worth it. For a while it was all money out. Now that there is money coming in, I’m fine with it.”
Keep in mind I only started this degree (I applied in the fall of 2003 from the Ronald McDonald House) because I was incredibly fearful that I would lose my job due to caring for Christi. I thought a Ph.D. in Education would allow me to do something else in the field of education. I knew with nearly 20 years of experience I would be too expensive for a school district to ever hire me. I have two loves in my life - my family and my teaching. I knew I didn't have any control over what happened to Christi's life, but I would try my hardest not to be without teaching, which I also love. Thankfully, with the dear Lord above, I did not lose my job.
When Christi died, I was in the midst of my residency and I felt I had invested too much to drop out. I thought Christi would want me to finish, and so I think I am about to do just that. When I go to Columbus to defend my dissertation on Friday I will wear a special angel pin on my shirt in her memory and use her American Girl shower gel in the shower that morning. I’ve been saving it for something special – I guess this is it!Ph.D. Program at Ohio State:
Take GRE - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Apply to OSU's Graduate School - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Interview with OSU for Acceptance - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Begin taking 700, 800 & 900 level courses - CHECK! (Winter 2004)
Complete Residency Requirement - Three Consecutive Full-Time Quarters. (I actually took six full time quarters, but.....) (CHECK!) Spring 2007
Complete 150 Hours of Coursework - CHECK! (Winter 2004 - Spring 2008. I only took one quarter off. I am so glad that I am no longer making the four hour round trips to Columbus!!)
Pass Candidacy Exams (become PHD – ABD “all but dissertation”) CHECK! (August 2008)
Submit research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval CHECK! (December 2008)
Conduct my dissertation research CHECK! (December – May 2009)
Write my final two chapters CHECK! (June-August 2009)
Pass defense of my dissertation………..(2 hour oral exam set for Sept. 25, 2009) After that two hour exam, I will be dismissed while the committee meets to discuss my work and to vote in private. It's going to seem like a horrifically long wait, but hopefully when they call for me to come in I will be greeted with, "Congratulations, Dr. Thomas!" (Fingers Crossed)
Graduation (set for December 2009)
A bit has changed since my doctoral candidacy exams on August 19th of 2008. One of the committee members had a baby, another one I replaced with a new professor and what will be different about my dissertation committee vs. my candidacy exam committee is the addition of a "wild card". This is a professor assigned, as a full voting member, from outside of the college of education. It is to ensure that the exam is rigorous and that the work contains "high scholarly merit". (Yikes!) When I read his list of credentials, his list of publications and the impressive schools he has been educated at, I assumed I was doomed. I have been praying about it and I am feeling better. However, I do not pass unless all five vote "pass". If any one of the five members votes no, I'm done. (I've joked to my BG students, "On Monday I will either be bringing you candy Buckeyes for a quick celebration, or you'll never see me again because my body will be found on High Street.")
I am proud to be at a Research I Institution (There are only two in the state of Ohio - OSU and UC); however, there are times when I've wondered why I didn't just get a Ed.D. or an on-line degree instead. I would have been done years ago. The title "Dr." goes with both degrees. Then I remind myself that I selected the most challenging and rigorous program for good reason – and it was actually with GREAT reason. I would not have gotten the job at BGSU without a PhD. My job at BG has been even better than I ever dreamed it would be. I’m truly blessed. Now I "just" have to pass my dissertation defense on Friday in order to keep it. (No stress there, cough.)
From what my colleagues have told me, it will be a long and arduous process that I must be prepared to defend, debate, conceptualize, synthesize, and explain my research in great detail. I need to present the arguments of my document and respond to their questions. They will push me until I cannot answer any more questions with the purpose being to judge the depth of my knowledge. I need to demonstrate my control over the discipline and theoretical arguments, but also be able to counter argue and offer alternative interpretations that may come up in their two hours of questioning. I've been preparing for weeks, but I don't know if it's good enough. I hope my journey will end on Friday on a high note. I can't even think of all of the hours I spent away from Christi & Shayla (and Shayne) working for this, if I will not end with my doctorate degree, yet I know that could happen if I mess this up.
Times are tense; prayers are appreciated! I need a sense of calm that I cannot get without His intervention. I'll be back in touch just as soon as I can. (Hopefully, with a posting by "Dr. Thomas".) THANK YOU!!!