Five years ago in the summer of 2014 as I was graduating from my undergraduate degree, I made the decision to embark on the PhD journey. The PhD is a seemingly never ending chapter of any grad student’s life full of ups and many, many downs and all the emotions you could possibly feel.
But, for me, this chapter of my life officially closed on Monday when I graduated from my PhD – and I had mixed emotions about it.
Even after years of wishing this would all be over, crossing that stage with those robes and that hat on made me think twice about the career decisions I have made. I recently spoke about what I miss about being in the lab, and I do genuinely miss doing research. It has also contributed to my confusion over the identity of this blog and all my social media channels. With not being in the lab anymore and having no research or PhD rants to share, what the hell am I going to write about?
But I was also extremely glad it was over. Why? Because I feel like the PhD ends with a whimper and not a bang and a fair few months of a confusing post-PhD identity. There have been many milestones I have enjoyed over the PhD journey – passing my upgrade viva, submitting my thesis, passing my viva, resubmitting my thesis and finally publishing my first paper! While each of them was a huge celebratory moment, there always felt like there was another step or another hoop to jump through to reach the end of this chapter. That is until now.
For the past seven months since I passed my viva and all the troubles and challenges between then and now, I have been in limbo between celebrating actually having a PhD, and holding back because I didn’t have that degree certificate yet. But this was it. The last PhD milestone. The one that meant this chapter of my life was officially closed. And the one that meant I can now use my Dr title without feeling self conscious about it or debate whether it was appropriate.
So, on Monday I walked across that stage and got my doctorate and officially became Dr Soph! It is safe to say it still seems very surreal! Looking back on this past few years – I have learnt a lot abut myself, a lot about an academic science career and obviously a lot about the molecular mechanisms of embryonic stem cell self-renewal! But I can’t believe I actually managed to finish it. There were many times when I thought I wouldn’t, but there were some key people around me who supported me and helped me push through, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am. I did it! I have a PhD! This introvert from the middle of nowhere in Wales has got herself a PhD!
Theres no turning back now. This door is closed. It’s all about looking towards the future and seeing what the next doors to open are.
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