one step closer
05.28.05 // 3:37 p.m.

The ringing of the doorbell woke me up around 11.

I put on a sweater and slippers and went to the door. No one was there. I checked in the driveway and saw our mail carrier.

He returned to the door glad to know someone was home.

"Is this you?" he asked pointing to a letter with my name on it.

"Yeah, that's me" I said and took the letter from him.

"I hadn't delivered this one because the apartment number is one and I know the names didn't match up," he explained about a letter in a yellow US Department of the Treasury envelope.

I didn't pay much attention to the second envelope, even though I knew it held a nice tax refund check. Instead, I opened the first letter he gave me.

I knew what what the UCLA Graduation School of Education & Information Studies (GSEIS) envelope held: anxiously awaited exam results. I opened it quickly, took out the two pages and read the first few lines.

Dear Cynthia,

I am pleased to inform you that the facutly of the Department of Education has reported that you have passed your doctoral screening exam at the doctoral level. You now have official doctoral standing in the Department*, and may continue working toward the PhD degree with a specialization in HEOC.

As soon as the mail carrier left, I re-read the letter, scanned the page of comments from the two facutly members who graded each essay, autobiographical statement and oral interview. My overall grade at the bottom read: DOCTORAL PASS (yes, in all caps).

I might have yelled out "yes!" or some other exclamation of excitement and relief. I also jumped on the couch like a little kid.

I wrote about the exam weekend, but I didn't write about how terrible I felt afterwards or the facutly interview. All week, people asked me how the weekend went and how I felt about it. I just said vague things like, "it's over" or "it was okay."

I didn't want anyone to know that I really didn't have the ganas I needed until the exam was almost due, thanks to the email from P. The ganas thing was minor compared to the fact that I found all sorts of creative ways to procrastinate over the weekend.

I had this awful feeling all week until Friday afternoon when I met with my advisor and another facutly member for the last part of the exam process, the oral interview. All doctoral students are required to meet with their advisor and a second professor. The other professor in my case was the co-principal investigator on the NIH project I help out with as a research assistant. So, even though I hadn't taken any classes with him, I had had plenty of interaction with him. I shouldn't have been nervous about the interview, but I was.

My advisor and the other faculty member were reassuring. Rather than talk about the exam we discussed my future in the program, my research interests, and ways they could support me. We talked about my relationship with the other students in my cohort.

I told them I had been elected, which I hadn't done a few weeks ago for fear that they would think I wasn't committed to my studies. I framed my interest in the position as another aspect of my interest in policy issues, which I also wrote about in my autobiographical statement.

When I brought up the two papers -- both of which I had re-read for the first time that morning and realized were not horrible (as I thought all week), generally made sense, but were full of dumb typos, a few weak points, and even an incomplete sentence here and there -- they told me not to worry. My advisor and the other faculty member told me to enjoy the weekend.

Still, the full weight of the DAP (the exam) wasn't lifted until this morning. It feels really nice to know I passed. I seriously doubted myself because I knew I had the skills. However, due to my own foot dragging and poor work ethic I could have spoiled my chances of continuing in the program and meeting my goals.

I didn't screw up, but this proves I still need to work on my paper writing habits.

*Admission in the program is provisional until certain exams or coursework have been passed or completed.

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Me siento: relieved
Escuchando: sunshowers (george sarah remix) -- m.i.a. (on kcrw)

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