First off, I want to thank everyone I met back in Austin, Texas (you all know who you are!) as I can truly say I would not have made it to this position of my life without their endless support from picking me up when I was not at my best to nightly food runs to spontaneous adventures (#6thStreet). I took a six-month break from writing to recharge before I started my first semester as a Ph.D. student. Now, I am excited to share another blog – and hope to continue to be more consistent – to give my updates! I’ll make it as short as I can.
Academic Life: I have just entered Week 7 of my Ph.D. journey at the University of Southern California (USC). It has been such a challenging experience and I have had to balance my role as a research assistant, teaching assistant, and full-time graduate student. However, I know my hustle and hard work will pay off just as it did throughout my time in my master’s program. I know my heart is in the right place as I get excited to challenge myself within academia. I continue to apply to fellowships, conferences, and other opportunities to share my experience and the voices of my communities. Hustle and heart will set you apart and distinguish you.
Personal Life: I worked during the summer and began planning several trips that I want to take through this Fall semester. At the moment, I’ll be flying to Atlanta, Georgia (October), Washington D.C. (November), and Portland, Oregon (November). I also registered to run my third L.A. Marathon in March 2020 and getting back to my workout sessions. Last summer, I was chosen to be a godfather in which the ceremony will take place in two weeks!
However, I have to remind myself of important things throughout this Ph.D. journey.
Mental Health: Take care of your mental health! This is a constant issue that people do not talk about as much. I met several people throughout my undergraduate years tell me that some people just aren’t strong enough to hold it in and keep moving forward. Do not think that you are weak because you have to seek help or assistance, especially from the health center or counseling services. If anything, it makes you much more of a brave soul for allowing yourself to be vulnerable, bring down your barriers, and release your bottled emotions aloud.
Instead of seeing it as “do you see a glass of water as half-full or half-empty?,” I think about: “how long do you think you can hold onto that glass of water (analogy to your challenges) before your arm cramps up and gives out?” Check-in with family, friends, and other trusted resources you feel you can rely on for assistance. Sometimes, you need to step back and seek out assistance to debrief on academic and personal life. I also need to remind myself to eat throughout the day instead of waiting until the evening.
Empowering Community. Surround yourself with supportive and empowering people. I cannot express the gratitude I have for my amazing Ph.D. cohort, faculty, and other colleagues who have shown me compassion, empathy, and constructive criticism to help build and strengthen my ideas. I have shared with them my feelings of imposter syndrome, thinking if I was truly ready to take on this Ph.D. program. My professors and faculty advisors have been great mentors and constantly remind me of my contributions whether in class or in research. I have joined organizations and attend supporting group meetings on campus to keep me more grounded in this higher education institution. I have several friends who come to visit me whether it be on my nightly study sessions or going out to have fun on the weekends. Others have often called and/or Facetimed me to check-in (thank you by the way!).
I am working to be a better version of myself to improve as a role model in hopes to inspire more people to follow similar footsteps in higher education. Overall, I am constantly reflecting and reminding myself of my self-worth and confidence in myself and the work I produce.