Some time around Labor Day in 1983 I became a formal student for the first time when I started kindergarten. I have been in the classroom for the last thirty years.
Friday my days as a formal student ended. Friday I was hooded and officially finished my doctoral degree. Friday my graduation to-do list and countdown looked like this:
And what a party it was too! I changed the “about me” on this site from “educator and graduate student” to “educator and PhD” as well (my dad had been waiting for that).
The college convocation was Friday morning. By chance I led in our department so they gave me the banner to carry in. My belly definitely gave extra shape to the graduation gown.
I had a card with my name on it, Lisa Marie Giles Dennis, and a pronunciation help underneath, Jiles, to help the person reading the names say them correctly. I saw that it would be my department head saying the names for our department and thought, “He’ll get it ri-, no, he’ll probably get it wrong.” You’d think since he’s known me for 5.5 years that wouldn’t be my thought. I was right. He read my name, wrong, and then read the pronunciation guide. He asked me after how many names I had now, still not realizing he’d read it wrong.
The university had asked me to write a little blurb they might display while I walked across. However, because we weren’t in order at all they didn’t show them. This is what I wrote anyway:
With great gratitude to my family for always providing a culture of learning in our home, and the love and support to go as far as I dream. I’m so lucky. Here’s to the next grand adventure!
My adviser, Dr. Jessica Summers hooded me, a wonderful moment for us both. She was an amazing support and help through the whole thing. And then we stood there while the department head finished reading my apparently very long dissertation title.
Afterwards it was photos with friends…
Getting a few shots around campus…
Having fun with Brett…
And, of course, wearing my hood as a hood.
Saturday morning was the doctoral commencement. I am very glad we went to that (and didn’t have to go to the undergraduate/masters commencement the night before, which apparently had a concert atmosphere, highly inappropriate I think). The speaker was excellent, short without being overly pedantic, and had some good words to say about excellence as well. And this time they said my name correctly as I walked across the stage. When I shook hands with the university president she said, “Congratulations, on two counts I see.”
The president asked us all to stand as she conferred all the rights, honors, and privileges associated with a doctoral degree. And I had to wipe my eyes. This is something I have wanted on some level for a very long time. And I did it. I earned a Ph.D.
Now I get to start on my next adventure, something I’ve wanted for even longer.