by | June 23, 2009

Being successful in the doctoral or any graduate program is a clear objective. The path to that outcome is however not easy. The focus is on what happens when learners encounter roadblocks and even more importantly on what helps them in overcoming them. Maybe we can call this an academic resiliency. We all have been in that place when one looses focus, the big picture does not look as bright, the job is no longer as secure, the events in our life may displace academic priorities, and the most immediate assignment seems like an insurmountable task.

So here is my call to all of you learners, advisors, faculty to share what works for you – and possibly help to answer some of the questions about resiliency. Any comments, personal experiences are welcome. Personal stories are a powerful inspiration and by telling our stories we provide the encouragement to others.

I went to traditional university and looking back, I realized that what made me complete my dissertation was the practice of “sitting” at a computer – not unlike any “sacred” practice. The actual result came from hours of frustration spent in cafes and at the computer. Frequently, from spending two hours at a computer trying to conceptualize an idea only 15 minutes may have been productive. This was before I attended a writing workshop addressing different styles of writing. Mine was very circular, non- linear, and I progressed by constantly rewriting, each time adding a few words, a sentence, to what I already had… My frustration eased , when I realized that this is the way my mind works and I better accept and work with what is. And as with everything, practice makes things better – if not perfect.

There are numerous stories, even on this blog, please see response to Lynn Riskedal’s blog from June 8, where learners struggle with physical challenges. These stories are about the power of inner strength. Jean Shinoda Bolen writes in her book “Goddess in Every Woman” (equally applicable to any male) that at the time of biggest adversity, we need to claim the strength of staying with ourselves, staying true to ourselves, our goals and our aspirations. What that means is that if we are willing to persist and not give up, the answer will come. We simply need to do our part. Sometimes, paradoxically, failing means that we succeeded in learning what does not work for us and to make us see clearly what is the next step.
Here are some of the questions to help you think about examples.

– What is your story?
– Who is your role model?
– Who inspires you and why?
– How do you prioritize?
– What are your resources?
– Who is your support?
– What is your problem solving process?
– If you could give advice to other learners what would it be?

Looking to reading your contributions.

Dr. Vera