Yesterday was the official end of the 2012-2013 school year and the end of 5 years as a student at MSU. I was officially given my “hood” and my PhD degree yesterday as well.

It was an early day as I picked my Dad up around 7 am and I went with him and Mike to Erickson Hall for the ceremony. A bunch of us were herded into the Kiva (which seemed quite small with everyone in there) about 9:30. The Kiva is just a large lecture hall, which made it interesting to squeeze into a little desk with my giant gown on. There ceremony was a bit different than other graduations. There were 13 different PhDs being given out in the College of Ed to nearly 60 people. Each person’s advisor came up to say a little about each person: what their research was about, where they’re heading next, etc.  It was fun to hear about everyone’s dissertations. I was unaware of even what some people in my own program have been studying. Believe it or not, we often talk to each other about our work in general terms unless we’re specifically asked about it. “I’m collecting data now” or “I’m finishing soon…” etc. It was cool to hear about what everyone else has spent working on for this entire year.

When I got up there, Anne-Lise said some nice things about me and my work and a little about my journey. To hear someone else explain it sounds nearly impossible that I even did this. I tried to soak it all in and enjoy the moment they put that hood on my shoulders.

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Afterwards, we visited with people upstairs  on the 3rd floor. It was nice to have Anne-Lise meet Mike and my dad. It was definitely like worlds colliding there.  I showed them the board on the 3rd floor where all of the doctoral students’ pictures are and saw my picture that was taken in 2008 on my first day of orientation. My goodness a lot has happened to me since then.

I took Mike & Dad to Crunchy’s afterward to celebrate. It only made sense since that’s my go-to place to unwind after some days at MSU. I will miss those burgers being  just down the street. When I took my dad home, I stuck around a bit to celebrate with my mom, sister, nephew, aunts, and uncles. By the end of the night I was incredibly exhausted.

The big debate is whether or not you can call me Dr. Whitlock now, or if I need to wait until my defense is over on Tuesday. The only problem with graduating yesterday is that I know I still have this major milestone ahead of me (and not to mention, a lot of grading to finish as well). I suppose you can call me Dr. Whitlock but I won’t really feel like it until Tuesday afternoon.

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