The day I got my doctorate, Jesse tried to break my ribs. I think he was more excited than I was. I haven't hung the diploma yet and he asks me about it every day. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to hang a $65,000 degree in a two dollar frame (which is all I have left).
I worked for that degree for 7 years and it about killed me. Don't get me wrong, I learned a ton and I enjoyed most of the learning, but writing a dissertation is an enormous, complicated, and often frustrating process.
It didn't help that my 3 person committee had cycled through 9 members by the end either.
Last semester, when I introduced myself to my classes, I explained that I was working toward a doctoral degree.
Jesse jumped up out of his seat and exclaimed "That is so awesome! That is one of my dreams to get a degree like that! Will you tell us when it's done?" I was flattered and a bit taken aback by his enthusiasm but stammered, "Well, yeah, of course I will."
Throughout the semester, Jesse asked me about my progress. He also peppered me with questions about how a doctorate works and what it takes to get one and why I wanted one and how it will help me in life and what I learned from it. It was exhausting and encouraging.
In November, I was able to tell Jesse that all I had left was my Oral Defense and some paperwork. He had like a thousand questions about that, but it still felt good.
Jesse remembered what day my OD was scheduled for and took the time to come after class and wish me luck.
When it was official, I didn't say anything to my classes. I simply changed my name on the board from "Ms. Hirsch" to "Dr. Riina."
Then I waited.
As an aside, I chose Dr. Riina for two reasons: 1) Dr. Hirsch is my dad and I am not that old! 2) Dr. Riina rhymes with Ballerina which amuses me and is fun to say.
A couple of kids noticed throughout the day and pointed it out to their friends or asked me about individually.
Not Jesse. Jesse walked in my room, saw the board, ran up to me and picked me up in a bear hug so fierce I felt my ribs creak. He was grinning from ear to ear. He shouted "You guys, its official, she did it!" as he jumped from foot to foot.
He turned to me and said "Dr. Riina, I am so proud of you and I admire you so much. I know if you can do this then I can too."
I don't think I need to explain why that was a good thing (or how hard I had to work not to cry).