Reaching the Top of the Hill: Reflections on My Second Year

Reaching the Top of the Hill: Reflections on My Second Year

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...", said Amanda, I mean, the Little Engine That Could.

That was how I felt at the beginning of my degree. At NU, "I think I can" soon changes to "they think I can" and now, during my second year, it has become "we think we can."

I often imagine my path as being linear. One course must be completed before starting the next. I suppose it can be compared to being on a train track. Me and my cohort members are all on our own tracks, running parallel to one another. I think this is important because we are moving in the same direction while never getting in the way of each other.

I find it important to note that though the Ph.D. program at NU is a cohort-based program, it is still rather individualized. I personally am at a very different stage of progress than my cohort members. There are many opportunities to get involved in side projects, such as writing books based on current events and leaders, to completing research assistant work, as I do. Regardless, we take classes together and work cooperatively toward our end goal.

Those considering NU as their potential doctoral learning institution should be aware that NU works with students to ensure they experience success. Though we are on a linear path, one must be aware that detours happen and they are dutifully dealt with.

Being at the midpoint of the program (meaning we all passed the comprehensive exams!) means that working toward the end goal has become very important. Being past the apex of the hill is rather motivating and encouraging. The Ph.D. program is challenging but manageable.

I feel that my doctoral instructors have given me many opportunities to challenge myself and stretch my limits, all while providing guidance and support. Though I am "going down the hill" now does not mean things are speeding up. As Dr. Polka, one of our head instructors, regularly reminds us, at NU, "we go as fast as we can, but as slow as we must." It's yet another testament to the individualized attention students receive at the NU doctoral program. Right now, I'm gaining speed and I hope to soon see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And so, my journey continues. Here's to changing "I think I can" to "I thought I could, and I did".