Spring 2023: Semester of Rediscovering
A few friends have said the first four months ran so fast. Same for you? For me, I am just indifferent.
When the semester started, I was literally already looking forward to the end of it. Not because I was already tired of schooling, I had so much on my plate and I was just pondering on how to get them all done and done well.
Now the semester is done, and looking retrospectively, I am grateful for everything. There were definitely high and very low moments; many times when I desperately needed clarity on various new concepts I came across while studying for classes, got stuck while conducting data analysis and the list goes on, but I believed I finished strong.
So, I’d love to share a little bit about this semester with you and some lessons I learned which I hope would be useful for you too.
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote down my goals for the semester and I pasted it on my laptop’s home screen with the help of stickies. This served as a reminder to me to ensure that all of what I did this semester was tailored to achieve these goals.
Now about the classes I took, I was glad I took all three classes (two methods and one content) enrolled for this semester. They were critical, thought-provoking, and new.
As novel areas, I made sure I thoroughly read (not glance through) all materials and digested them before going to each of my weekly classes so that I could contribute effectively to class discussions and connect the overarching ideas with my overall research goal.
The readings were sometimes a lot and as an individual who takes time to read and digest, I had to be strategic with my reading time. Some of my strategies include taking notes to condense the important ideas from each reading and reading at least two articles per day not all at once.
Each of these classes first, challenged and then transformed my thinking and research trajectory. In fact, I mentioned to my advisor and professor how happy I am being in the space I am in now- rethinking my research trajectory, unlearning some conceived ideas, and voraciously reading more because there is just so much to catch up with!
Lesson: You can spread your readings over the week because it might be overwhelming doing five readings of over 25 pages at a stretch.
This semester, I volunteer as a research assistant at the Institute of Public Policy in my school. One of my duties in this role was to prepare a research paper on an area I was a complete novice.
So that means that apart from my school readings, I had to create time to read literature in that area (Longitudinal clerkship in Medical schools). But with the help of my supervisor in this role, an annotated bibliography document was created for me to journal significant contributions of all the literature that I read and that aided me in synthesizing my ideas while writing the literature review.
There is tremendous progress regarding that paper and I hope to share some key points from that article once it is published.
Lesson: As a researcher, you might want to try using annotated bibliographies while reading through literature for any research or writing endeavor.
In addition, I also wrote a soon-to-be-published book chapter with two of my professors in my department. That was an experience I am grateful for as that was the first time I worked closely with a professor on a research project since I started my program.
Our research explored the intersection of racial and health identity and the representation of Black people in the media. Again, I had to spend separate time exploring literature about each of these concepts in order to contribute effectively to the paper which I hope I did!
Although I was unable to go, the paper was presented by the other authors in mid-April at the Broadcast Education Association (BEA2023) in Las Vegas. I hope to share the article as soon as it is published later in the year.
Further, this semester, I had the opportunity to present a part of my research at my first-ever conference at the Central States Communication Association. I wrote about my experience here.
Apart from my advisor, this semester, I have been opportune to speak to different scholars engaging in areas close to mine within and outside my department. I am thankful for their interest in my little beginning, probing, attentiveness to the unsettled ideas in my head, directions on the next steps to take, and connections with other individuals within my field.
This semester too, I have worked with my advisor, my classmates, and senior colleagues on very interesting projects that have either been submitted for conferences or are in progress for scholarly journals.
All these opportunities are stretching me, and my research and would keep me busy during the summer which I hope to share with you.
Lesson: Be open to opportunities for collaboration with colleagues and professors. For many of the opportunities that have come my way this semester, I either just said Yes when I was asked if I was interested or I just ask questions that lead to discussions about potential projects.
Further, as a doctoral student in my department, I teach public speaking at the undergraduate level. This is one experience I cherish and I am privileged, honored, and grateful to do in school.
It is just another inexpressible feeling seeing students coming to my class completely nervous about speaking publicly and then reading their enriching reflections about their growth.
Spring semester was my second time teaching the course and I am excited about my growth in terms of my pedagogy, relationship with students, and classroom experience.
I still believe there is still a lot to learn, and I am very willing to take every step to improve myself.
Lesson: Ask that your class be observed by your basic course director as that would help you identify your strengths and weakness as a teacher.
In terms of my spiritual health, as a Christian, I have been very intentional about this part of my life as I consider it sacrosanct. Every week, I have a day where I intentionally stay away from school activities to spend time with my spiritual family in the church and spend time on my own with my Lord.
This weekly activity has helped me bounce back after a tired and sometimes confused week or day during the semester.
These precious times especially on my own are also helping my research trajectory because my hope is that my research would achieve what God has asked me to do in Provers 31 vs 8–9.
In conclusion, Summer is upon us and I already have a list of things I hope to get done. I would be taking classes, teaching a class, and doing research! I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I choose to be excited about it!
I hope to share how my first summer experience by the end of July!