My third semester as a graduate student

Abigail Oyinkan Olajire
4 min readDec 21, 2023

The journey is far!

Taken by me

As I sat down to pen down a bit of how my semester went, I went blank! Ironically, it was one of the most packed semesters yet!

Perhaps, because the electricity in my apartment went out for a few minutes after I started writing.

In any case, to help myself, I went through my gallery, and wrote down some phrases in a Word document e.g. ‘birthday’, ‘culture research project’, etc; and then started writing as you see below.

My classes

At the beginning of this semester, I was still unclear about the courses to take. Ideally, I should have decided this in the prior semester. But for some reason, I was unable to.

So, on Friday before classes began, I met with my advisor and dissertation committee. I still recall that meeting! But to cut my long story short, my confusion was cleared up, I enrolled for all my classes that same day! I still remember telling my advisor how satisfied I was with the courses they recommended.

As I reminisce about this semester, these courses (all content) and the outstanding professors' teaching methods shifted my reasoning; introduced other relevant areas such as family communication, and global health; helped me situate my research interests within existing research in my field, and aided me to thoroughly grasp the basic assumptive stances that guide my field.

I especially appreciate the rigorous intellectual exercises that have transformed my research trajectory. I cannot forget writing a positionality paper where I articulated my research ‘self’ within the communication discipline in about 12 pages.

That was one intellectually demanding but rewarding experience I have had recently. Additionally, I solely worked on a research paper from start to finish and prepared a proposal for a project that eventually won a research grant from my department.

Many thanks to my advisor and committee!

Research

Right from summer, I have taken a particular interest in migration with a particular interest in African immigrants. For instance, as a migrant, acculturating into the US culture has altered my health experiences, perceptions, and identity, and I wonder how this informs an individual’s health discourse and experiences with families, healthcare providers, organizations, etc.

While my research is still evolving, this is the stage I am now, suggesting that there is so much room for growth as I fill the gaps in my thought process.

And to help myself, I have promised to continue to do three things- read, read, and read. And this semester, in addition to the plethora of journal articles I consumed, I read four interesting books!

My reading list for Fall 2023

My interest in migration also got me accepted into the MU’s new Interdisciplinary Migration Studies Institute as a Graduate Research Fellow. From Spring 2024, I will be working with migration scholars- faculty and graduate students- across different fields such as history, political science, education, sociology, gender and women’s studies, etc. I can only look forward to the productive work that would emanate from this research network. I am very excited about this one!

Equally, in September, I applied and got accepted to serve as a research assistant on a health communication project with two professors in other fields. For this project, we are designing and evaluating health warning messages in a national survey/experiment.

As a health communication scholar, the ability to create culturally competent public health campaigns is a valuable skill, so I regard this a huge opportunity to learn from experts while contributing to an ongoing incredible, and novel work. If possible, I would share a detailed experience about this soon.

I would not forget to add the plethora of other ongoing research projects with faculty and graduate students as well as accepted conference paper presentations that all happened this semester.

Teaching

I taught this semester too. This time, I taught both in-person and online. Both experiences were rewarding especially managing an online class for the first time. It's my second year as an instructor and I believe I have made tremendous progress with my pedagogy. But there are more skills to master, and knowledge acquire.

This semester, apart from the heartwarming evaluations from my students, I had one of the most memorable moments when my students sang the popular birthday song on my birthday before class.

Spiritual Growth

As I aspire for the best in my academic career, I am equally bent on my spiritual growth. As I have noted in a former article, weekends serve as a recharging strategy for the coming week. So my weekends are for this area of my life. I take Saturday meditation walks (paused this because of the weather), monthly retreats, go to weekly church services, etc.

This routine is a major anchor that keeps me going because I recall the many times I doubted myself and questioned if I was ever doing the right thing, or if I would be able to publish any article. But I found solace in meditation, my professors’ stories of humble beginnings, and prayer.

As I take some time off to rest, recharge, and prepare for the new year, I am only grateful to my Lord for how far I have come because “if it had not been the LORD who was on my side …”

I hope you have a wonderful break too!

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Abigail Oyinkan Olajire

I am a health communication researcher interested in creating and implementing cultural competent solutions to health problems for underserved communities.