SRN First Person Interviews Portrait of a Winner: An Interview with Doctoral Candidate, B. Annette Daughtry
An Interview with Doctoral Candidate, B. Annette Daughtry (Ain Modeira Baderinwa)
SP: You are among a tremendously invaluable and unsung population of heroes. No one could lay claim to being successful or know how to negotiate properly in life without teachers. Before I begin this interview, I want to thank you. Tell the Serenity Pathways audience a little about your career and current goals.
A: I am a mathematics teacher and I retired from public education in 2010. I am back at work, part time, at a local college. Additionally, I am a student in a doctoral program in Instructional Technology in Education. I think this will help me to be more effective and help my students be better prepared to meet technological changes in the future.
SP: What stage are you in your doctoral program and what has the journey been like for you?
A: As I am nearing the completion of the final stage in my doctoral program, I am thankful for the opportunity to continue my education at this stage of my life. There were times when the water was cold and the waves were high; nonetheless, the voyage has been truly fantastic. Equally challenging is the road ahead that may carry many obstacles. Not all students face the same obstacles and students may approach the challenges of a doctoral program differently. Women may face greater obstacles and may approach the challenges of doctoral studies differently than men.
SP: Could you elaborate on the last statement?
A: Without going into too many details, studies have been conducted to examine ways in which males and females are treated differently. One study done by Sandler a few years ago, showed subtle biases, such as women are interrupted more than men; faculty members make eye-contact with male students more often than with female students; and faculty members are more likely to know and use the names of their male students than of female students. A professor at Columbia pointed out that for several years the Honors Calculus course had an enrollment of 90% male; therefore, he made a conscience effort to recruit females but was turned down repeatedly with statements that they knew that they would not pass the admission exam. There are other studies and examples that would infer differences in expectations for males and females. . . but that is a whole new conversation.
SP: Thank you for that enlightenment. That is some interesting information about subtle or indirect pressures.
SP: What other stress factors have come along with the quest to get your doctorate?
A: For doctoral students, frequent evaluation, financial duress, relationships, time management, high-volume workload, and self-expectation can lead to high levels of stress. Consequently, the cumulative effects make this a vulnerable time for those seeking that level of education.
SP: Talk briefly about each of the factors that you just mentioned.
A: Frequent evaluation does not end with the final course; rather, it continues throughout each stage of the doctoral program. My last course was followed by comprehensive examinations. These series of exams were to be completed within a 70-day time frame and they were enough to send any doctoral learner’s stress-a-meter to its highest level.
SP: How did you handle the stress?
A: I took time out for reflection between my last course and my exams and it seemed to have been a good strategy for overcoming that obstacle. Also, I have been a member of the SRN for two years and used its support programs.
SP: You mentioned financial duress as an obstacle. As you know many people in all walks of life are now facing those burdens; how does one balance the books when education expenses are added?
A: The investment level of commitment must be high to reap a high return. Consequently, a strict budget must be imposed for the four to five-year duration of the program. When funds are lacking, attitudes and anxieties run rampant and relationships suffer. My relationship with my grandchildren has changed and the visits have become few and far in between. To lessen the impact of this obstacle, I set aside two hours each week to stay in touch with them using Skype and playing Words With Friends. During this time, each grandchild is allotted individual time to spend with me to continue and strengthen our bond. I find that taking time out—even for a few hours—to spend quality time with loved ones help to reduce stress and keeps me focused on my goal.
SP: How have you addressed the issue of balancing the budget?
A: I have gotten very creative with keeping spending at a minimum and stretching my dollars.
SP: How have you addressed the issue of balancing the budget?
A: For educators, the basic salary alone is hardly enough to make ends meet; therefore, many of us moonlight in the evening hours or on weekends. To help me get through this phase, I started a consulting and tutoring business, “Beautiful Minds Tutorial, LLC”—specializing in adult education. Although my webpage is under construction, advertising on SRN’s website has been a tremendous help in increasing my clientele. (http://www.stressrejectersnation.com/?page_id=15) The investment level of commitment must be high to reap a high return. Also, a strict budget must be imposed for the four-to-five year duration of the doctoral program.
I have gotten very creative with keeping spending at a minimum and stretching my dollars by organizing swap-meets where my colleagues, friends, and I swap clothing items that our children/grandchildren have outgrown. Friends and neighbors have already donated bicycles for Christmas in the same spirit so that each one of my grandchildren will receive a bike that is nearly new and age-appropriate. Additionally, preparing large one-pot/pan meals and freezing single servings and limiting eating out to special occasions (such as free birthday meals) help me ease the financial woes.
SP: How do you manage your time to accommodate the other aspects of your life, . . . teaching part time, researching, writing, every-day “to do” lists, and finding the time for a social life?
A: Before adding the demands of a doctoral program, I could hardly find enough hours in each day to complete required duties and responsibilities. After I was well into my program, it was apparent that I needed to seek help with time management if I were to balance the high-volume workload, my job, and my personal life. Luckily, Stress Rejecters Nation recognizes time management as a stressor in our lives. With this in mind, I use SRN’s “Action Achievement Planner” which is a time-management organizer/planner to help me avoid “overwhelm” and deal with life’s interruptions. Not only do I plan my day, I also plan my activities well in advance. By employing this strategy, I am able to keep on schedule and accomplish each milestone.
SP: Do you find that you place just as many demands on yourself as the program places on you?
A: Well, the most vulnerable time for a student in pursuing an education is at the doctoral level. Credit for this can be given to the compounding effects of common stressors along with the self-imposed pressure of trying to achieve self-actualization. Assuming that the needs of levels “one through four” (deficit needs) of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs have been met or satisfied, the doctoral learner climbs to the next step, self-actualization or being needs—“the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming.” We are usually very hard on ourselves and we impose strict measures to keep the promise that we made to ourselves of completing our degree program.
Q: Do you feel that there is a way that you can overcome this obstacle of self-expectation?
A: Yes, one way that I could overcome self-expectation is to start looking beyond completing the doctoral program and start looking forward to achieving a level that is beyond self-actualization . . . as Maslow states it, a “selfless-actualization.” He suggested that there was a “process that transcended the self in self-actualization characterized by such terms as selfless, devoted, working at a calling, and being-values.”
A: Additionally, it may help to make reasonable promises to myself and have reasonable expectations. Further, I have created a Personal Oasis using the suggestion on SRN’s website. (http://www.stressrejectersnation.com/?page_id=333) Albeit, taking the time to take care of self should be incorporated into any doctoral program.
Q: Any other thoughts?
A: The road ahead has many obstacles—frequent evaluation, financial duress, relationships, time management, high-volume workload, and self-expectations—that can lead to high levels of stress. These obstacles could make a difficult doctoral program even more challenging for the dedicated learner. However, a well-planned program anticipates such challenges and SRN has been the guiding light that has supported me at each stage. Finally, my faith, and putting GOD first, have helped me to realize that I am not making this journey alone. I pray without ceasing to reduce stress and I am committed to using stress reduction techniques. I may take a few stress breaks to overcome the obstacles; however, “I have a promise to myself to keep . . . and miles to go before I sleep.”
SP: Thank you for sharing some invaluable insights. Keep up the great work.
Dr. Thomas A. Parker, LPC, CPCS
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