I’m beyond delighted to report that I’ve made significant progress on my Ph.D over the past year — after suffering from far too much hideously painful demotivation, disorganization, and overwhelmedness for the prior two years. In essence, I’ve completed all the work that I need to do to advance to candidacy. So provided that the two papers awaiting grading from faculty pass muster, I should be declared an official “Ph.D candidate” in the fall. I’ll be writing my dissertation prospectus this summer. Then my goal is to write my dissertation at breakneck speed so that I can graduate in May 2009.
Mostly, I have Debi Ghate to thank for that miracle. I couldn’t have done it without her help; I was floundering too badly. As my OAC graduate mentor, she acted as an excellent manager by helping me focus on priorities, set deadlines, evaluate my progress, and the like. Most helpful were the “Weekly Reports” that I began writing her about two months ago. On Sunday night, I’d write her a brief e-mail of detailing what I’d done that week and what I planned to do the next week. That was enormously helpful, as I had to be totally explicit and objective in reporting to her. (She’d often write back with helpful questions, suggestions, and plain old encouragement.) For the other graduate students without perfect skills of organization, monitoring, and self-motivation, I’d strongly recommend writing such reports to someone who will gently hold your feet to the fire. (You can’t have Debi though! She’s mine!)
So over this past academic year, I managed to write and complete my “Fifth Semester Qualifying Paper,” as well as three papers for incomplete classes. I helped organize and promote the new “Think!” lecture series for the Philosophy Department, with good success for the four lectures and particularly the two debates. I taught my own courses for the first time: three introductory ethics courses of about 30 students each.
I also wrote a review of Tara Smith’s Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist for The Objective Standard. I took Eric Daniels’ excellent year-long History of Capitalism course. I’ve also contributed a bit to FIRM’s fight against the imposition of socialized medicine in Colorado.
And… I’ve stayed in excellent shape. I’ve learned to play bridge. I’ve taken my dog Abby to regular acupuncture appointments to help slow down the progress of her degenerative myelopathy. I wrote a long essay on the election of which I’m still very proud. I’ve blogged regularly. I’ve listened to the whole Bible, as well as tons of other fiction, philosophy, history, and more. I endured eight straight weeks of winter snow. I’ve been a reasonably well-behaved wife. I’ve not gone totally nuts.
So I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
My semester isn’t entirely finished though. My students still have their final exam to take, so I’ll have that plus revised papers to grade next week. (That’s a piece of cake though!) After that, Paul and I will take our traditional “enjoy life by physically working yourself to near death in some fantastically beautiful location” May vacation. This time, we’ll be mountain biking around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
That’ll be a really, really well-deserved vacation for me!