Pacifica (autumnwinds) wrote,

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The Good News

The good news is that I passed my defense. It went very well...even better than I expected. I got up early and practiced one last time on Wednesday morning, packed up my stuff, and headed to school around noon. I went to the chemistry department and picked up the new LCD projector I'd reserved, since the wildlife one had horrible color and was screwing up my animations, and the new projector gave me no trouble at all.

A lot of people came. Tyler was there, my Mom made it over from Seattle. Carrie came and Doc canceled his class so he could come (and two of the students in that class came too). My committee was there, even the person who had to charter a plane out of the wilderness at the last minute. My undergrad advisor was there, and a number of my old professors. It was a little like "this is your life."

The presentation came off well. I was really glad I'd practiced so many times, because I like being able to go through my talking points and know exactly what's coming up on the next slide before I change it, so my speech is very smooth. A good sense of anticipation and familiarity goes a long way towards giving me the confidence I need in presentations, and I get annoyed at other student presentations when I get the impression they're seeing their slides for the first time (and act like it). I got a lot of compliments on my talk for days afterward, which really surprised me. I'm so used to feeling apologetic for my research (because I didn't find much variation, I wasn't able to do the glamorous analyses that many other students have done), but I guess nobody else felt that way. A friend defended the day after me and everyone remarked on how she seemed to lack confidence, even though her research was orders of magnitude better than mine (she's already got a publication in press). It apprears that presentation skills matter more than I thought.

When the talk was over, my committee and I went into the closed-door session, which lasted about an hour and a half. It was about as hard as I thought it would be, for exactly the reasons I thought it would (a very tough committee member). I did the best I could with the questions and got good input on things to work on for publication. Then they booted me out and only deliberated for about a minute before deciding I'd passed.

It's a good feeling, one mostly of lightness. It still hasn't fully sunk in yet. Maybe it will at graduation, or this Christmas. I think it might take me a while to feel like I've fully peeled away from all my academic responsibilities, and that I'm free at last, free at last.

And yes, I'm going through the hellish four-hour commencement next weekend. Because I've earned it.

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