Thursday, October 24, 2013

Soooooo.....I'm not YET Dr. Rachell

I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted.  I am not yet Dr. Rachell.  It's been a long journey but I know that the light is peeking right around the corner.  I was really shooting for 3 years to be my cut off for school to complete this degree but I realize that this is my journey and mine alone.  I cannot compare what I am going through with other people.  I will finish in MY time.  Tomorrow is the graduation ceremony that I was shooting for and obviously will not be attending.  I'm okay with that. My time is coming....fingers crossed it will be in March.  With that being said, this is where I am....

I am 4 weeks into my second "continuation" course.  I ALMOST have a finished proposal.  It is my hope to be able to defend my proposal in the next 3-4 weeks.  From there I will move on to IRB and the goal is to "pass" IRB the first time.  From there I can start collecting my data.  I will be conducting interviews and surveys.  And then I can write chapters 4 and 5.  It all sounds so easy but it's taking forever!!!!  Good news is that I've hired an editor.  I feel so scholarly in saying that.  She is awesome! Her name is Tommie Sue.  She used to live around the corner from my son's school and she now lives in Canada by where I grew up.  Instant connection!!!!  SCORE!!!  I found her through an online resource called elance.  Went out on a limb using it but got REALLY lucky!  I love her!  She has already edited my chapter 1 and will hopefully be done with chapter 3 in the next few days!  LOVE HER!  What is frustrating is that since I attend an online school, my chairperson, content specialist, methodologist and editor are literally in 4 different places in the United States.  So one person may say one thing and another may say something else.  It's frustrating but I keep telling myself that "a good dissertation is a done dissertation."  So what they ask for is what they will get.  I just have to get it finished! topic is still the same.  My study is a qualitative descriptive case study.  It's funny...I feel like I don't know anything but when I talk to people about my topic, my methodology and my design I feel like the smartest person in the world.  It's true when they say that you will own your research!  I am so ready to be done with this journey!  I have also started wondering where this will take me when I am finished.  I know that I want to start to present my research because it's extremely relevant and timely in the field of education so that could definitely be next.  In case it's been lost here...I'm studying the challenges that a math and science transition to teaching program faced in its recruitment and retention.

I still have a passion for African American males and their education, suspension rates, furthering their education, etc.  I had a deep conversation with my friend TJ about this last week and some things were validated for me on this topic.  I believe that I'm so passionate about it because of my two sons as well as the students that I taught.  I may pick this topic back up.  I'm by far no expert on it but I'm very passionate about it.  It just sucks me in to further understand how some of our young men can excel in school and go to Yale and others end up in jail or dead.  It just seems that there is no gray area...either they make it or they don't.

So, that's an update on where I am.  It's coming along.  I hope to do a better job at posting on this blog. I always say I need to post and then life kicks in...raising a 4th grader and an 11th grader has taken over my life...add being a wife, a full time education technology specialist, and my dissertation on top of that and you can see how this blog gets pushed to the side.  Keep me in your thoughts as I continue on this journey...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sharing some words of wisdom with other GCU learners...

Wow....I haven't written in a VERY long time!  Life, researching and writing has definitely taken over my life!  I haven't forgotten about my blog and think about writing often.  I have so little time!  Better late than never!  In this post I am going to talk about an opportunity that I was given and took full advantage of.  I will catch you up on life later.

My GCU boyfriend (as I call him), Todd, is my doctoral enrollment counselor.  His only job was to enroll me in a program almost three years ago.  Well....we clicked and have been in contact ever since.  He calls to check on my progress and congratulate me for finishing classes, etc.  I know that he has a twin brother, is working on his degree, just bought a house with a pool, etc.  We have encouraged each other to keep pushing forward on a professional level.  Well, about 2 months ago, he called to inform me that GCU would be having a "test" doctoral residency here in Atlanta and that even though I wasn't required to go (because I finished my required two in Phoenix last summer and the summer before), that I should consider getting involved.  I emailed the lady in charge of setting it up and offered to assist.  She responded and asked if I would like to participate in the Emerging Scholars Conference and speak to the group of about 75 attendees about my experience in the program and words of wisdom that I had to offer them.  Of course I said yes!!!!

So on Monday, I drove to the hotel where it was being held, ate dinner, and had the opportunity to speak.  Three of us spoke and I went last.  The two ladies before me just finished their doctoral journey so it was inspiring for me to hear them.  I offered the perspective in between the attendees journey and those that finished.  First I told them about myself and what I did for a living.  Below are some of the points of advice or nuggets that I offered them:

  • You will get finished.
  • Celebrate small successes.
  • Make sure your family and friends understand what you are taking will need their support.
  • View your paper as 5 small research papers as opposed to one large dissertation.
  • As you are progressing through your classes, write towards your topic.  That way, when it comes time to write your dissertation, you will have a list of resources to pull from.
  • Find a few dissertations that you love that are based on your topic and pull references from their reference pages.
  • Block out time to write (ie. every Sunday afternoon).
  • Never take too much time off from your research and'll get too far behind.
Lastly, I left them with a quote from Toni Morrison, 

I am so glad that Todd pushed me to step out and do this.  I know that my words were well received as I had people waiting to talk to me after I spoke asking for my contact information, etc.  It filled me up and made me realize that I do have a voice to offer and a bigger role that what I think!  It also inspired me to really get going and finish my journey!  July 17th is my goal and then I'll be DR. NATASHA RACHELL!!!  I cannot wait to accomplish this goal and figure out what's next for me!