Wednesday, November 30

Today Was A Very Important Day!!

Today I submitted my first application to my top choice school the University of Maryland for their doctoral program in Women's Studies. I was so excited because this point in my life has not come without many tears (literally and figuratively) and much hard work. A few months ago I was doubting my ability to even get in to a Ph.D. program. I only wanted to apply to MA programs (which I still will do but not all) and I was afraid that maybe I wasn't ready. I was even doubting my program and not sure what I wanted to study. But after and few gentle "smack downs" mostly encouraging words and some self exploration, I realized that I am completely capable of pursing this next level.

Throughout this process I have learned three major things about myself...

1. Be honest with really doesn't matter and it's really not that convincing to others if I am not passionate about.

2. If it's meant to be it will...let the chips fall...relax, relate, release (yep as cliche as it may be)

3. And finally during my visit to U of Maryland a graduate student that I met said something completely profound "go for the school that is going to accept MOST of you."

So with that being said I am signing off to get back to studying and I am excited to submit more applications. Rutgers is next...

Go Marquitta!

I just got back to the office after seeing Marquitta present her research poster at the Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition with the College of Education and Human Services.  I am thrilled to see this project come to fruition as it's been a long time coming!  Marquitta is an inspiration to me.  She persevered despite encountering some challenges and she made it through!  Hats off to Marquitta - this is an outstanding testament to what is possible given personal drive, motivation and sustained effort.  Here's a great shot from the poster session.....compliments of Robert Barclay.

Marquitta and Lynn

FUN Times!

This year has been wonderful with you all. I really appreciate spending time with everyone. Keep these memories in a jar so when we all get our Ph.Ds we can remember where and with whom we started.

Sunday, November 27

Thankful for the GRE (naw, just kidding)

Hello my lovely and fellow scholars.  After reading Lynn's post, and remembering that this time last year I was aglow with pride and anticipation at becoming a McNair scholar, I thought I would share something I am thankful for.  YOU!  That's right.  I am thankful for all of you - from the staff and older cohorts, to our mentors and my fellow McNarians. Instead of writing a list of random and funny quips, I thought I would post excerpts from my Retreat Reflection.

Hippies, and Veggies, and Wine, Oh My!
    Wow!  What an experience I had this past week.  What a relief for me during this difficult period in my life.  As I have expressed in past reflection, one of the greatest joys I have known lately is that of my fellow scholars, of the McNair program as a whole, and of the McNair staff, especially Lynn.  With the idea of the program being a total experience, both mind, body, and soul, I can attest to the truth in those statements.
    Anyway, let me offer some words and phrases that describe the 1st Annual Hippie/Vegetarian/Jolly Roger McNair Retreat for Scholars Needing a Swift Kick in the Ass and a Realistic Assessment of the Professoriate. (be sure to see footnote below)
  • The best salad I have ever tasted (that did not include creamy and fattening homemade ranch dressing)
  • That Oliver is not Maureen’s kid (I quizzically looked at Maureen’s laptop wallpaper and asked, in a puzzled and concerned way, why Oliver wasn’t included in the picture)
  • Don is loud, is fun, and I think he really likes me
  • Ribs, not matter how average they are, taste great after Tofu meals
  • That by eating healthy, as in the vegetarian food, I really could feel good (so, in essence, I will knock the food a tiny bit, but deep down inside, I really liked everything Bob and Sally cooked up)
  • Try never try to go canoeing with Carissa (she’ll dunk ya)
  • 1.9% unemployment in in the professoriate, which means I can get a job
  • “Jaguar”
  • Children’s books are fun:  “My Grandmother is a hippie”
  • When you strip away the normal, everyday concerns and stresses of life, and live closely together for three days, a group of people will not only get along, but will find out ways to make each other feel better, feel happy, and feel like winners
  • If you need to be quiet for any period of time, don’t wake Carissa up
  • That geo-caching is probably fun in an alternative universe and one that includes working flashlights, mosquito repellent, and a lot more booze prior to the hike
  • Before beginning a game with 13+ people a few things should happen:  First, elect a leader to choose the game.  Second, try to follow the traditional rules of the game.  Third, if you can’t do either 1 or 2, then create “Pict-arade-aboo” and make sure there is ample nectar to sip upon
  • Everyone is an imposter in Graduate School
  • PhD programs are for training, not for intelligence building
  • Pork belly tapenade over lightly seared sea scallops make for a good last meal
  • In an effort to be more like Gary Bussey, I created an acronym for DRAFT – Don’t Reflect.  Add Flurry of Text
  • Specificity + Flexibility = Admission
  • Capacity + Passion = Admission
  • When someone has gotten little sleep, is sick, and experiencing vertigo, don’t give the keys to a huge truck and have them drive in rain (Justin C, after Poppycock’s)
  • Bring peanut butter for Carissa to any future trips lasting 24 hours or more
  • Perfect certainty never comes
  • It really isn’t that bad to sleep in a camper with Tim
  • Sometimes Zebras can have 8 legs and resemble a Loch Ness monster – just make sure to draw the stripes
  • Fit and Match = Admissibility
  • Being called Dr. Denby for a whole day is really freakin’ cool
  • Always choose the “superstar” faculty member from China!

The following list is an effort to add creativity and fun to the reflection and in no means is it to skirt the length requirements of the assignment.  

Saturday, November 26

I Am Thankful For You!

I think most of you know how much I love working for McNair.  I do!  It’s a great job because we ultimately are helping to “produce” or “grow” (if you will) some fabulously creative and confident and awesome people who will go on in their education and careers and do some really excellent things.  I especially like seeing this evolution occur over time.  Each scholar goes through the “exploration phase” and the “working really hard” phase and the “oh, I’m super excited about this” phase, and so on….  During each of those phases, different elements come into play.  What’s great about a program like this one is that we can help put out different opportunities and resources and ideas about things that might just help someone think about or consider something as valuable that they might not have done before – or they might get a chance to do something that will help open up new options down the road.  We are all growing together, and through this program, we get to share some of those experiences.  These special occurrences are the core foundation of McNair.  So, I thought I would say thank you to all of you for making this work special and meaningful to me – I am thankful for each of you!  You make my life rich!

Here’s a little something that underscores this feeling – Masani told me that I could share this with you from her last monthly – she talks about visiting the University of Rochester and how she felt while she was there.  All I can say is that it’s been a great privilege working with you, Masani.  You are one dedicated and determined chick!  I know you are going to do some amazing things; because you already are.  J
“One of the most significant events that happened to me in Rochester occurred after my interviews with faculty. I was walking with a professor to lunch, and felt this intense feeling of pride. I thought to myself, "I can do this." I felt for the first time that I am capable of not only being a graduate student, but being a professor as well. As I have never been the most confident person in the world, this was rather profound for me. I really believe that having this feeling allowed me to be more successful in communicating and marketing myself during the visitation.”   
--Masani McGee

On the River!

Friday, November 4

What a Difference One Month Can Make

This was my October reflection.  I wanted to share it because one single month really brought about a great change in my emotional state and my excitement level.  ENJOY!
What an absolute difference a month can make.  I remember feeling down and depressed, unable to move forward, overall concerned about my future while still not making true progress towards it.  Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but it came close.  Then, as if the productivity fairy blessed me with “do-it” dust, I started tackling my tasks with vigor.  I started to feel better, now that I was armed with goals, a to do list, and deadlines.  I was not longer lost in the totality of my tasks.  I had conquered them and, by doing so, I had broken the funk I was in.
Another point for McNair.  And I don’t mind them winning.
I think it would be useful for me, and McNair, to see the progress I have made.  So, here is a list of actions taken and achieved since my last reflection:
  • Sent over 50 emails to professors at my top 14 schools.
  • Received 70% or so response rate to those emails, including long replies filled with advice and guidance.
  • I have targeted 11 schools for applications based on the results above, my interest in the program, and the possibility of acceptance.
  • Finalized my letter of recommendation writers, set up meetings with them, discussed my schools, and began the process of getting those letters.
  • Met with Professors Smith, Green, Hall, Jones, and Robertson to discuss my potential for admission into a graduate program.  The main concern was my GRE and transcript; all professors saw my overall package as promising.
  • I was approved, and very blessed, for travel to Indiana University, as well as visits to my Michigan schools.
  • I have skimmed over at least one article from each of my targeted professors.
  • I have wrote, reviewed, edited, and revised my statement of purpose and CV at least 15 times, all with the help of multiple people, including Lynn Curry, my professors, a few writing center sessions, and my mother.
THE MORALE OF MY STORY:  I think it’s important for me to remember my accomplishments.  Even more importantly, I need to remember that hard work accomplishes real goals; that if I take a few steps forward at first, I will eventually reach my destination.  I also need to remember that clich├ęs, although overused, do sound good, and look even better on paper.