What I Couldn’t Survive my Ph.D. Without

What I Couldn’t Survive my Ph.D. Without

When initially asked what I couldn't survive my Ph.D. without, I quickly looked upwards in awe over what is my greatest energizer, my muse, my perfectly roasted nectar of the gods. What keeps me going when the late nights take a toll? What gives me that extra push when I need to read just one more article? What helps me survive my Ph.D.? Coffee, of course!

Coffee, with its warm embraces, delicious tastes, and mouth-watering scents is essential to any Ph.D. Of course, there are naysayers, anti-caffeiners, but what do they know?! Tea? Yes, it can be healthy, but nothing compares to my coffee and its ability to get me through numerous literature reviews and data revisions. I don't see tea doing that for anyone!

Another great perk of my precious coffee is that it is easily shared with others. I know that with my cohort, there are plenty of coffee drinkers. The coffee break is never declined and always well deserved. As soon as we get the go-ahead to run out of class and get this life-giving drink, off we go and everyone's spirits rise. Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but our spirits are always lifted when we get our coffee breaks.

As we join together with our cups of java, we talk, relax and somehow always get back onto the topic of our dissertations or current projects. It is so nice to be able to talk to the others and know that they understand perfectly what I'm going through. They know the events, they know the projects, and they even know new resources to share! Actually, coffee allows us to socialize in a way only cohort members could. Even the non-coffee drinkers join in on the sharing, comforting, encouraging, and brainstorming.

At Niagara University, the cohort model is promoted and emphasized as we go through the Ph.D. program. From day one, we have been together. Even at our very first meeting at NU, the introductory dinner, we were together and introduced as a new group. For many, the group entity not only gives a sense of identity, it also provides a sense of family - a very unique and strange-looking family, but, a family nonetheless.

Where else can you find adults in all stages of life, of various ages, and with very different interests all come together and work toward a common goal? We are all part of a different cohort, but we are in it together. The sense of unity and cooperation is clear. The help we give and receive from each other is crucial to surviving the Ph.D., especially when they lend me a buck or two for a coffee. I know my experience would not be as beneficial without the cohort.

Now that I think more carefully about what I can't survive without, I have to admit it isn't the coffee, it's the people, my cohort, whom I couldn't survive without.