Graduation – Part 3
Graduations are for families. On Sunday I will graduate as a Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Davie Florida. I live in Indiana but choose NSU for three reasons. First I was granted a wonderful scholarship from the school to attend. Second I could the vast majority online and third they offered admission to their program for school business managers. At the time I was admitted, I was a school business manager.
Shortly after admission I had to stop working and there was a significant doubt about being able to continue. Fortunately, the school and the organization who granted the scholarship agreed to allow me to continue so long as I kept up in school. I agreed and so five years ago I decided to continue. The work was difficult at times and the dissertation was tough. But two things got me through.
The first thing was my desire. I decided in 1977 that I someday wanted to be called doctor. It took thirty five years to get there, but this past December I graduated. Thirty five years is a long time to pursue a goal but I was confident and determined. Finally after some twists and turns, many times after thinking I would never have the chance, my chance came true. I started my dissertation in January 2012 while in the hospital rehabilitating from hip replacement surgery. I ended it in September after leaving the hospital following a chemically induced bout of lupus. So 2012 was a tough year but heck thirty five years was a long time to wait.
The second thing that got me through was my wife Sheryl. In fact Sheryl is what this note is about. When I cross the stage I will be crossing in lieu of Sheryl, who should at the very least have earned a co doctorate. Sheryl read 95% of my papers, commented on 80% and told me you cannot submit that 5% of the time. When you live in IN and go to school in FL, your primary way of communicating knowledge is by writing, so each class required a paper a week and three to five major papers per semester. Sheryl read all of those papers, commented on many, and improved every single one. As I said Sheryl earned this degree as much as I.
So when I walk across the stage on Sunday afternoon. It will ultimately be for both of us. I earned the title, Sheryl earned the degree. I am not working these days so we have no reason to believe that someday the degree will pay off with money. It pays off however when one considers what it means to me. Now no person who didn’t love you would encourage you, help you and be excited when the degree is earned.
So yes, ultimately, this degree is for family, it is the public representation that we made it. Not me, we.
The dedication of my dissertation reads in part as follows:
This study is dedicated to my wife, Sheryl Phillips, who has studied alongside me while I earned three university degrees and yet she has not been officially recognized for any of them;
To my father, Lawrence Richard Phillips, Sr., who taught me the joys of working hard to achieve a goal and to keep laughing because all problems deserve a good laugh;
To my mother, Marjorie Jean Phillips, who instilled in me the desire for education, gave me the intelligence to learn, and the love of learning to pursue education; and
To my aunt, Patty Ann Hale, who passed too soon and was never given the opportunity to realize her potential.
I am thankful for the personal sacrifices of Patty Ann Hale, Marjorie Jean Phillips, and countless others who contributed selflessly to the advancement of medical knowledge surrounding the treatment of diabetes.
Yes, graduations are for family even my family of diabetic friends.