Monday, August 5, 2013

You Can Call Me Doctor Rott

Well, not that kind of doctor…

But on Friday, I defended my dissertation, so I am now a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology. 

It’s hard to believe that I am basically finished with my graduate program.  It has been a long and difficult six years, punctuated by being diagnosed and living with multiple chronic illnesses.

It meant so much to me to have my family at my defense (literally and figuratively) – my parents, sister, aunt, and grandparents, my boyfriend, and several good friends, one of whom flew all the way from Seattle to be there for me.   

And it made me realize that while getting a PhD is a huge accomplishment, what actually means more are the people that I am surrounded by, who have helped and supported me along the way. 

Because I couldn’t have done this alone.  It certainly wasn’t easy. 

Even the defense was difficult.  My committee peppered me for over an hour with really hard questions.  But in the end, the revisions I have to make are minimal, and I feel that I stayed true to myself and the kind of dissertation (hopefully one day book!) that I set out to write.

It really is a surreal feeling to be done.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea.  When I woke up Saturday morning, it was a huge sigh of relief to realize that it’s over.  And to know that I never have to face the firing squad ever again – amazing! 

It also feels good to finally be in a place where, as both as a person and a scholar, I can be myself.  So much of the past six years was spent making other people feel okay about my situation.

I’ve talked about it a lot before, but when you are in a strenuous graduate program, the assumption is that all of your time and energy will be spent concentrating on school.  And if you’re not doing that, for whatever reason, you might as well not be here.  As I have discovered over the years, this is not specific to my discipline.  This is the nature of the graduate school beast regardless of subject area, specifically if you are in a PhD program. 

But aside from that, it really has been a crazy ride.  And I made it. 

There were definitely times when I wanted to quit.  Where I felt like it would be easier if I just threw in the towel.  But that’s not my nature, and the more people told me that I should leave, the more I wanted to stay.  And not only stay, but finish. 
And despite everything, I am one of only a few people in my cohort who have finished so far.  It took me six years, and considering everything I had to deal with, it’s pretty amazing not only to finish, but to finish “on schedule”.    

Without listing the acknowledgements from my dissertation (which is three pages long!), I have to say again that there are many people I couldn’t have done this without.  And I am so grateful to each and every one of them.

And I am grateful to all of the readers of this blog who have supported and encouraged in ways that many of the healthy people in my life could not.  They say it takes a village, and it totally does.  While the researching and the writing of the dissertation was all me, seeing this program through to the end was an amalgamation of all of the supportive people in my life. 

Even if I can’t write prescriptions, it is pretty cool to be a doctor.  I might just let that go to my head a little bit.     

Now on to the next adventure…


  1. Such an wonderful accomplishment! Congratulations!!!

  2. Mazel tov, Leslie! So happy for you! (And wow, I didn't know it was possible to attend the defense of a dissertation! I definitely never heard about it when my brother was defending his.)

  3. Congrats! You are so very inspirational!

  4. @Migrainista, @Aviva, and @StephiSteff, Thank you so much! @Aviva, it depends on when it was. If it was more than 7-10 years ago or more, dissertation defenses weren't open to the public, like they are now.

  5. Congratulations Leslie, that is an incredible accomplishment! The support you are describing can make such a difference in life. I wish you much success as a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology.

  6. Congratulations to you! What a fabulous accomplishment of the marathon
    and not the race. I wish I could find a way to get through my graduate
    program with my disease activity (lupus and a few others), but in the
    end I had I take a leave of absence from my program bc the pace almost
    literally killed me. I had a full scholarship for my MFA program, but I
    also had to teach as part of the deal and considering I've been
    disabled for over a decade, taking graduate classes AND teaching
    (essentially working, as I did go off assistance to give this chance of
    a lifetime a go) was far too much for my body to handle, which is too bad bc I loved teaching. That was in
    2009 and I'm still recovering. It just seems so unfair that I can't use
    a full scholarship that I earned through stellar undergraduate work bc
    I have autoimmune diseases. I wish there was a way to fulfill the
    teaching while taking my classes even if it meant teaching through the
    summer sessions instead of the regular semesters. While my dept was
    quite good with granting me some leeway they wouldn't budge on this
    issue. And to me, this seems like blatant discrimination. Any
    suggestions? I cannot afford grad school on my own, which is why the
    scholarship was such a wonderful opportunity.

    best, jenji