I met with my dissertation chair today, and she went over the minor revisions that my committee requested. I have a handle on dealing with all of them, but in going through the chapters, I found a lot of little corrections I want to make, too. I am coming down with a cold, so I onoy got through chapter 1, but my goal is to finish all the changes and get it back to my chair before the end of the month.
As I only have minor revisions to do on my dissertation, I was allowed to walk on Saturday and receive my (mock) diploma. It was a very memorable occasion, as both of my children were there, along with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. It was also great to be in the close group of fellow ETEC doc grads – Dr. Leslie Lopez, Dr. Julie Bradley, Dr. Mike Travis, and Dr. Monica Boon. The great ETEC faculty was there too, of course, except for my dissertation chair, who had a family obligation. Other ETEC friend showed up at the pre-graduation lunch, and after the ceremony for the leis and picture-taking.
I still have my very motivational don’t-break-the-chain calendar up on my wall, only now it’s adjusted to show my defense date and my graduation date, along with blank spaced for me to fill in as I complete my revisions. When you see that photo posted, you will know that my dissertation is done and signed off on by my committee.
My defense was set for May 8, at 8:30 am, not my favorite time of day. As my courses are generally either evening or online, and I am one of nature’s night owls (as evidenced by the time stamps on most of my blog posts), starting three weeks out, I set my alarm for 9 am, then two weeks out, to 8:30, and then one week before, to 8 am. I woke up on the day at 7:15, and got to school in good time, even stopping to pick up coffee for my committee on the way. Katya helped me to organize and carry everything in.
It was delightful to see a number of grad students in the ETEC program there, another ETEC faculty member, as well as two faculty members from KCC, in addition to my committee. I had a playlist on my iPhone to keep me energized, and I was set up and ready to go at 8:30. It was great having a live audience to bounce off of; I got a number of chuckles and nods, signs on engagement, and I finished, using a comfortable pace, with 43 seconds to spare.
I had good questions from the audience, and my committee; it’s a bit of a blur, but when I was asked about three steps in my process that I would recommend to other grad students, I know I whipped out my fitbit and talked about the discipline of walking 10,000 steps every day for a year, and how that tied into working at least 20 minutes a day (and often quite a lot more) every day during the crunch periods last year and this year. I can’t stress enough how the persistence and discipline that I developed helped play a role in my completion.
I was out of the room for only a short time, and I was informed that I passed with the need to make only minor revisions. This means I get to walk at graduation tomorrow. I have to finish grading my students’ papers from this year before I can even start to look at the corrections, but by this time I know that my trusty “don’t break the chain” method will keep me on the path to finishing the revisions over the summer.
I have been working every day on honing my dissertation presentation so that it makes the hard 30 minute cut-off. This means I have been rehearsing pieces of it, and the whole thing, a number of times each day. Here are some of my recent Facebook pages that sum it up:
April 28: Still working on the presentation. My discussion of the findings alone is 25 minutes, which is how long the whole thing is supposed to be.
April 30: I have gotten down my dissertation presentation – hard limit of 30 minutes – to 29 minutes and 35 seconds.
(later that day) Hmm. The latest test-drive was up to 29:50. I think I will stop practicing for a while.
May 1: Dissertation defense rehearsal took only 28:18. Unfortunately, I got the comment that I spoke too quickly. Hmm, time to trim a little more.
On the positive side, it was good to rehearse before a live audience (human, not feline), and I got great feedback. It was also good to hear another ETEC student, Monica Senes, rehearse her presentation tonight, and I also heard doc student Julie Bradley rehearse on Monday. The three of us defend for real next week.
Today I have been working on my presentation. It’s taking much longer than I thought it would, because I am quite persnickety about my slides, and I keep stopping to reorder information, add additional information, and redo the graphics for greater impact, and then trying to narrate them as smoothly and clearly as possible. I’ve gotten only about a third of the way through. I hope to finish up tomorrow so I can practice the whole presentation before my rehearsal on Wednesday,
As an ETEC graduate student, I am expected to include a visual part of my dissertation defense. I am very comfortable with PowerPoint, so I prepared a slideshow. My dissertation chair recommends 30 slides. I have twice that, but I use a lot of graphics, and a number of quotes from my participants. I have been working on the actual presentation in chunks, so I don’t know how long the whole thing takes yet. I did send the presentation draft to my chair today to make sure that I have everything covered, and then it’s up to me to make it fit into the time allotted. It will be rehearse, rehearse, rehearse from now until Wednesday, when I will have a defense rehearsal.
I have been refining some of my preior slides to use in my presentation and adding others. I know that I had to prune my comps defense slides mercilessly and use just a few of them in my proposal defense, and I know that I likewise need to carefully selected just a few slides from the proposal defense to provide background in my dissertation defense. Still tinkering with ideas about what key points I want to highlight.
I took off Monday – Saturday to catch up with things that went by the wayside during the final push – like my taxes – but I am back in the saddle working on the PowerPoint for my dissertation defense. My chair has shared resources with us on how to structure the final presentation, and I am actually enjoying this part as I like doing PPTs – they help me to focus on the essentials. I do PPTs for every session of the classes I teach, and it’s not just for the students. I still have a way to go, but I am off to a solid start.
The eagle has landed!
I was just a little girl, but my father kept us up late on night of July 20. 1969, so that we could see the first men land on the moon. “The eagle has landed!” signaled the safe landing of the lunar module. Soon the astronauts would open the door and set foot on the moon, but just then, we watching back on the planet knew that a difficult, critical stage had been reached. It was enough for that piece of time to celebrate the mission that landed a manned vehicle on the moon.
That’s how I feel. I pushed and I revised and I re-researched and I thought and I put it on paper and stirred the words some more until finally, at 11 pm on a Sunday, my eagle landed too. I got the ok on my chapters and on my abstract; I got the final template into while I had to pour in and then reformat my document; I struggled with the pitfalls of technology that do what they want and not what makes sense to me, but I wrassled the b’ars and I got something in shape that started to feel like a living thing. Something that could breathe right, think right, fly right. It was ready to soar out of my hands through the ether to my committee members, and for one glorious day tomorrow, while it is out on its maiden run, I will not have to think about anything – anything at all – about my dissertation.
Because I’ll be doing my taxes.
…worked on the revisions all day. I think chapter 6 is in good shape – we’ll see what my chair says. As, technically, it is supposed to be with my committee this coming Wednesday, I’m really hoping this is it.
Would write more, but I’ve been smelling my dinner cooking for an hour. I’m outta here to tonight.