What it feels like to get a Ph.D.
After I got home, I still felt stressed. It took me a long time to unwind. I went out with my best friend Brenda Harmon to Smoothie King and got a 32 o.z. smoothie - strawberry kiwi - my favorite - and drank the whole thing. I also took naps before and after that. I was so. very. tired. I didn't sleep well last night but I'm feeling better today anyway. So what does a newly minted Ph.D. do? Mostly sleep it would seem. At least, that was my choice.
Day after the Ph.D.
Today, I did nothing and am doing nothing. It's a real luxury. I played some computer games. I ate at Which Which. Now, I'm at Barnes and Nobles, looking at books and updating my website, and just doing... nothing. It's glorious. I only get this freedom for a few days, but I'm going to relish it while I have it.
Acknowledgements to Ph.D.
Khalid: The first person I thanked in my acknowledgements was my PI Khalid Salaita. He is the most amazing advisor I know and I cannot thank him enough for being so fun to work with all these years: his help, encouragement, advise and support have been invaluable. I didn't intend to join his lab when I first came to Emory, because I couldn't find research on his website that I liked. But during the fateful visitation weekend dinner, he happened to sit by me and explain what would become my Ph.D. project. It combined all my interests: I loved RNA, I loved gene therapy and I was fascinated by nanoparticles. That moment was the happiest I've ever been, because I could see my dream for doing real research coming true, in a vista before me. After I joined his lab, I could have been accused of looking at Khalid with rose colored glasses because I thought him the very best professor that could possibly exist. Since then, after working with him for 6 years, I'm happy to say that my high opinion of him hasn't changed a jot. Khalid will always be to me my favorite boss, and the person I am so happy I can say that I got to work for during this Ph.D.
Mom: My mom also deserves a huge round of applause. She watches my son Isaiah while I'm at work and also my grandma who can't do anything for herself anymore and works really, really hard. I wouldn't have been able to stay in the graduate program without her. Her care and support of me are unmatched.
John: Then there is John, my husband and rock. He has supported me without stint all these years, taking care of me when I got sick and had mental health problems, standing by my side day and night, supporting me through stress, tears and long nights. He gave up his career and so much else so that I could pursue my dreams. I asked him at one point, is there anything I can do to help you achieve YOUR dreams like you are helping me achieve mine? And he said that I was his dream and he didn't need anything else to make him happy. I couldn't be more blessed than having this man to stand by my side and support me. And I hope, John, that in the next 11 years, I can help you achieve new dreams you never knew you had, and give as much to you as you have given to me.
Others: I give a shout out to Tom Pickel, an inorganic chemist who is a great friend of mine, makes no sense, makes me laugh and encouraged me during some really stressful times in my Ph.D. Shoutout also to my best friend Brenda Harmon, who showed me its only through the lens of chemistry that we can properly interpret and understand biology. She's the reason I came to the Chemistry program and not the Biology or Biochemistry Ph.D. program. She's also supported me constantly through the years and has been a real friend, from my freshman year of college onward. Thanks to my committee, for their advice and support, and my brother James and his wife Elizabeth for their love and support and help reading my resumes and things. My friends Gokul and Morgan Vaughn have also been so great - it's been so cool to get to know them and follow their stories. It takes a village to get a Ph.D. and I have so appreciated all these wonderful people on this journey.