Earth Day 2017 was yesterday and , I have just passed my 112 days in India. While many of you were attending #EarthDay and #MarchforScience events across the world, I watched via social media platforms. For the last three months, I have had to watch from India and support from afar. Believe me, I do feel separated from everyone else because of the physical distance and the time zones but I have kept up my pursuit for the next major journey of my life. I am very excited to share that University of Delaware accepted me into their Disaster Science and Management PhD program, so I will also join the effort to support truth using science and evidence.
While my classes do not begin until late August, I have already begun my prep. As I enter the program, I will have plenty of experience as a disaster human services practitioner but no experience as a PhD student. Fortunately, there is a bevy of information available to me. In addition to the usual statistics, research methods, and writing courses, I have decided to review two additional books Grad School Essentials: A Crash Course in Scholarly Skills by Zachary Shore and Getting Organized: Improving Focus, Organization, and Productivity by Chris Couch. Both books are dedicated to improving the skills of getting work done and having the right mindset as I start my journey. It’s not that I do not know how to get my work done, but that I recognize a new system is important to keep up with my new pace in graduate school. It’s been eight years since I completed my Master’s degree, so it only makes sense to review what I need to improve.
I am a good student but every good student can use help getting better. Perhaps that is what our journey is all about – the pursuit of the best version of us. Reading both books, I realize I must change many ingrained behaviors and beliefs but I am prepared to do just that. I have not always been a fan of change but I have learned change is the one constant to always expect. With that in mind, it occurred to me that the more flexible and adaptable I become, the better I can change when a situation requires it.
The most important point lesson I have learned so far is that I do not need to be anyone but me. I have enormously talented colleagues who are more intelligent than I am but I get to work with them. We learn from each other. In my twenties, I felt insecure working with so many sharp people but in my thirties, I learned we all possess different skills. Some folks will always be better than you in some ways and you will be better than others in different ways. Simply put, we must learn to be the best version of ourselves, and then share whenever possible. Getting my PhD will not change my desire to keep improving. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize I have much to learn. Seems like a good reason to continue to be a life-long student.