I went to graduate school when I was twenty-six. I wanted to become an English professor, perhaps for all the glory and prestige attached to the job. I loved the reading and the digging and the thinking. What I did not like was living in a different state from my significant other.
We lived apart through our whole engagement and the first year of our marriage. I finished my coursework a year early due to a sanity-breaking schedule of extra-classes, teaching, masters’ thesis-writing, exams, wedding-planning, and back-roads-of-Virginia-driving, and so I decided to move up to Philadelphia to be with my husband. I arranged with the department to take my next set of exams from afar, with a great deal of support from the (female, young, mother) chair of the graduate program and my (female, young, mother) dissertation director. I would write my dissertation from afar, and I would adjunct at Villanova, in my new neighborhood, due to help from a (male, older, father) member of my committee.
Out one evening with a small group of graduate students and one male professor, I discussed my plans for finishing the program from a distance. The professor, who heretofore had been very supportive of me, even though I had chosen someone else to be my dissertation director (at his suggestion), dismissed me.
“You’ll never finish the program,” he told me. Damn. Them’s fightin’ words… To read the rest, click here.