2011 has been an interesting year to say the least. I am proud of all that we’ve done in Wisconsin to stand up for workers rights and defend the democratic process, as well as my small part of it through the TAA and our Defend Wisconsin project. For an excellent collection of essays check out this volume “We are Wisconsin” edited by my friend Erica Sagrans, one of the many people I’ve had the privilege to get to know in 2011.
While the past year may have been about protesting in many respects, I also finished my doctoral coursework, submitted several research papers to journals (and a few revisions!), co-authored a book chapter on mobile phone use in Colombia (details forthcoming) and was inducted into the UW Teaching Academy.
But 2012 is all about “prelims,” or the preliminary exams that I need to pass in order to become a doctoral candidate. The way it works in my department is that I’ll need to take five eight-hour long open book exams over the course of two weeks, one for each of my dissertation committee members.
I’m embarking on this intellectual journey hopeful that it will be an opportunity to step back and reflect on all that I have learned over the past four and a half years. Many people have told me that coming out of prelims I will feel smarter than ever. For a reflection on this, see this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Personally, here is some of what I find invaluable:
1. Study buddies. I’m lucky to be in a graduate program that fosters research collaboration. While graduate school is very individualistic in many respects I have always tried to approach it in a collective spirit so that we all succeed. Along those lines I have had the honor to slog through these years with many fellow students who have become good friends and constant sources of inspiration, intellectual and otherwise. Plus, you make me laugh (especially the lovely ladies pictured here). Thank you!
2. Mentors. I am also fortunate to have the professional mentorship of many excellent scholars and practitioners in the field of communications who believe in my abilities as a scholar and human being. Thank you all! I really could not do this without your support and encouragement.
3. Organization. Because eight hours isn’t that much time.
4. Healthy habits (eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise). Because there’s truth in the saying “You are what you eat.”
5. Creativity and a computer. Enough said.
Hopefully I’ll end this year “as smart as I’ll ever be,” well on my way to completing a dissertation and Wisconsin will have a new governor.