My Road to the Ph.D.: Summer 2010 Wrap Up

Today is an exciting day:  I finish my last class this afternoon and wrap up my first summer of doctoral study here at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  By 3:00, I will be in my car driving eastwards to meet up with my family and then go on a much-needed vacation in Florida.  Here are a few things I’ve learned this summer (in no particular order)…

  • If I thought my performance was significantly improved moving from being an undergraduate student to a Master’s student, then the difference between where I was as a Master’s student and now as a doctoral student is equally noticeable.  While I’ve always been a little insecure about the quality of my writing, I definitely feel like I’ve managed to capitalize and further develop certain strengths in my writing.
  • If pressed on critical theory (Marxism, Feminism, Postmodernism, and all other “isms”), I’d have readily admitted to feeling only half-prepared in these fields.  Something I am coming to find, however, is that I am actually well-read and versed in this fields.  That was not something I expected to hear.
  • Even during the first few weeks, I was worried that I would have to set aside my professional work with medieval literature.  As I begin to flesh out the direction  I will be moving in with my dissertation, it’s looking more and more likely that I won’t have to sacrifice something I love.  Of course, it’s also looking like I’m going to be spanning about 500 years of literature!  lol
  • Having a Ph.D.  does not make you smarter.  It just means you’re a damn hard worker.

Of course, the one thing I’ve less learned but more reinforced is my appreciation of my Lisa.  She’s managed to take care of one house, one baby boy, and two dogs all on her own.  Anyone who’s reading this and is a parent can appreciate how much longer simple tasks can become when you factor in a 1-year old, and she’s had to do it all solo this summer.  Needless to say, there’s absolutely no way any of my accomplishments could have taken place without my very awesome wife to support each and everyone of them.  This vacation coming up is every bit hers and more.

So, for the next 9 months, I will be reading voraciously in preparation for my Ph.D. candidacy exams that I’ll be taking the final Thursday and Friday of May 2011.  Additionally, I’ll need to brush up on my old Spanish speaking and reading as there is a language requirement that I’ll need to pass next summer as well.  I took 5 years in high school and then an additional semester in my sophomore year of college, so I still remember some.  But I’m not too worried about this test.  Between now and then, there won’t be any further work on the Ph.D.–not that all of the test preparations won’t be monumental enough as is.

I’ve enjoyed blogging, however, so what I will most likely do is refocus this blog during the school on all things academic–college classes, article and essays I am working on for publication, etc, though I’ll have limit some of what I say about those college classes for professional discretionary purposes!-)  And when I move back out to IUP next May, I’ll pick up my Road to the Ph.D. once again!


About fhelvie

I live in CT with my wife and two sons. I am also writing my doctoral dissertation, which is focused on the relationship between American literature and comic book superheroes. I have served as a panelist at a number of conferences discussing my research in comics, medieval literature, and pedagogy. Most recently, I had the good fortune to present at the New York Comic Con. In addition to my work in comics scholarship, I'm also a full-time professor of developmental English.
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