The unthinkable has happened. The journey I started about 10 years ago when I decided to go into Speech Language Pathology ended this past weekend when I was awarded my doctorate in Audiology. It sounds strange to say it, but I’m kind of ridiculously proud of myself. You’ll find no self-deprecation here. I was lucky in that I really went back to school part-time for several years in order to fulfill the prerequisites for the graduate program. By the time I got to graduate school, I wasn’t shocked by the amount of work required. I was already familiar with the campus and the professors. What I remember about that first day is mostly panic. We had a meeting before our first class with all the incoming audiology students, the incoming speech students, and all the professors and staff. We sat around a huge table, and went around and introduced ourselves. I had just dropped three kids off at three different locations, leaving the house at 7 am to do so. I was a wreck. A shaking, neurotic wreck.
Over the next four years, I studied, I kissed scraped knees, I took exams, I did laundry, I wrote papers, I read bedtime stories, I taught courses, I threw birthday parties, I got swine flu and then pneumonia, I potty-trained my third child. I could go on, but I think you see what I’m going for. I did both things. Maybe I didn’t do either of them as well as I could have if I had not been juggling so many things, but I did them adequately enough that both things have been successful. My career is just beginning, and I couldn’t be happier with it. My children are blossoming into incredible little people with their own personalities and strengths. It appears that they don’t hate me for being a working mother. Maybe they’ll work it out in therapy later. :-)
Here I am in the crowd at my graduation. I think at this moment Aaron had just spotted me and I was waving madly at him:
Here we are decked out in all our finery:
It was such a thrill to see my first patient this morning. I didn’t do anything differently (other than sign my name with an AuD!), but I felt different. Now I just have to wait for my license to come through – I’m told it will be six to eight weeks. I shall try to blog more. Now that I’m not teaching anymore, I’ll hopefully have a little more spare time. Or not, but I’ll try to blog more anyway!
It was last summer that I started doing the initial background research for my Capstone project. In order to graduate, I must produce a piece of original research from start to finish. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, until you grasp what the word “original” means. It means, of course, that I have to design an experiment that will answer a question that no one knows the answer to. This is a very difficult task.
So I had a spark of an idea in April of 2010 – how does cognition relate to how we hear? I spent the entire summer reading everything I could lay my hands on about cognition and hearing. I met with my advisor several times to talk about what I had learned and attempt to figure out what I could add to the body of knowledge about this area. We settled on looking at how working memory capacity affects our ability to understand speech in noisy situations.
By the end of the fall, I had written my proposal, and by mid-April I had collected my data. The plan had been to write up my results and defend in mid-May, but I got sidetracked by a little thing called my gallbladder. I had wanted to have it all wrapped up and done before I started my externship, because I knew it would be really hard to get back into school mode once I was firmly in work mode.
Man, was I right. I set a new goal to defend before the end of the summer. Sitting down and starting to analyze and write was one of the hardest things I’ve ever made myself do. Every time I sat down in front of the computer I had a mini temper tantrum. “I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!” But, somehow, it got done. I submitted my first draft about three weeks ago, and my advisor contacted me with a few notes, and a defense date of Tuesday, August 23rd. Which is tomorrow. Gulp.
So this weekend I was faced with the task of fixing everything that needed to be fixed in my report, adding a section that my advisor felt (rightly so) was missing, and making the entire thing into a PowerPoint presentation that won’t bore the pants off my Capstone Committee. Here’s a sample slide:
After all this time and effort, the payoff comes tomorrow at 2 pm. I’m curiously not too nervous – I know the material like the back of my hand, and I don’t think there’s any way that they would not pass me. I’m hoping to walk out of the room tomorrow completely finished with school – and ready for work on Wednesday!