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A final step to freedom: or the day I defended my thesis

 Written by    April 20, 2015

 

Last Friday I was awake earlier than I have been all semester, but I wasn’t tired. The adrenaline wouldn’t let me sleep. The day had come: my thesis defense.

As I sipped my coffee, careful not to let any drip on my business casual attire, I contemplated just how long I had been thinking about this day. Honestly it was a little anti-climactic.

Finally it was time to go. With notes and thesis in my bag, I walked across campus on what turned out to be a beautiful morning. The butterflies in my stomach had been going for 24 hours, but I fought them down as I entered Dulles Hall.

Eventually I found myself in a classroom, sitting around a table with three professors I have come to know very well and who had all read my work.

And then with little warning, my advisor asked me the question I knew was coming, “So tell us, how did you get here?”

Before I knew it, an hour had gone by. We had discussed my research, made a few jokes, dissected my argument, and I was done.

I was left to wonder- had I just defended or simply had a conversation with my professors? I felt a little bit like I was in an extended version of office hours.  I reflected on the advice my advisor had used earlier that week to calm me down about the entire process. The thesis defense should be exciting- when else would there be so many smart people sitting around a table talking about something I wrote? Listening to my opinion?

My committee members stood to shake my hand; I received a hug and a book from my advisor. And then I was free, my master’s degree essentially complete.

Looking back, I think the thesis experience, while stressful, forced me to do everything you’re supposed to do in college, at least academically. I got to know professors, found professional experience, and explored my own individual interests within my field.

I think everyone should write a final thesis if they can. But that isn’t to say I’m not glad mine is over.

 

 

 

Images in order of appearance:

https://xkcd.com/1403/

http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1604

Academics, Research


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