March 21, 2013 is a day that I will never forget. I woke up early that morning, meditated as best that I could, dressed in a conservative suit and studied my notes. As the time drew near I logged onto my class portal, set up my iPad to record the entire process and got ready to defend my dissertation. As I took a deep breath I prayed that all of my words and thoughts would perfectly align themselves in order for me to pass! As the questions began, my anxiety kicked in. I thought about all the things that could go wrong. Then question after question I realized I was on a roll. I had the answers to the questions, my confidence shot up and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally the time had come for my panel to deliberate. As I impatiently waited I calmed my nerves because I knew I gave all that I had. Finally the words I will never forget were spoken “Congratulations Dr. Reed”! I had passed the final test! I was victorious! I had successfully defended my dissertation titled “Exploring Retention from Perceptions of Nontraditional Students Enrolled in Community College” on March 21, 2013!
It had taken me seven years to complete this journey. I began at the beginning of 2007 while working full time as a college professor. I had to take an entire year off during the process to deal with life; struggling to balance work, family, relationships and my health. On top of that I had to change dissertation chairs three times which delayed my research by months. And I had the nerve to want to complete two specializations at the same time! Did I mention that my Undergrad Degree is in Business, Master’s Degree is in Communication Studies and now I was going for a PhD in Education!
The quote that I think about as I am reflecting back on my experiences eight years later reads “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most all, love of what you are doing.” by Pele. During those seven years of time spent working on my PhD I put in overtime to study and learn all that I had not learned before the journey began. Some of my classmates were amazed while I was exhausted. What may have taken them an hour to write would take me three because of my growing knowledge of the educational world. I’ve been asked why did I select a program that was not communication or even in business? Pele says it best, love what you are doing. I absolutely love learning and I love being able to be versatile. For me learning the language of business, communication and now education completely made sense. It has opened doors, broadened my perception and created a platform in which I can connect the three together. The other question I often get is how and why did you go for two PhD’s at the same time? The answer is simple to me and one that is often overlooked. The how is, “I just asked”. The why is, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take all the courses that I would need to earn an additional PhD without having to start over. Many times we miss what’s right in front of us or we have a fear of hearing no. What’s the worst that could be said, no? Which would only leave you exactly where you started. So take a chance and ask, because you never know, that “yes” could be life changing! Here’s to all of you who have struggled, will struggle and continue to struggle. Hang in there! If I can do it so can you! Never give up on your purpose!