T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005
In Praise of an Amazing Advisor
I've written before about my two advisors, two men I admire greatly and whom I have always felt put my graduate career high on their own lists of priorities. While I treasure them both, I can honestly say that I have a deep affection for Prof. G., a senior scholar who has literally taught me the bulk of what I know in my field and who led me to my dissertation topic. Quite honestly, I would place him on par with my parents in terms of how much I have learned from him -- beyond my field, I have learned to be a teacher, a mentor, a professional, a writer, and a well-balanced, active person with his guidance. Mine is the last dissertation he will direct.*
Prof. G has come through for me several, several times. I met him at my first campus visit, and I was told by others that I probably wouldn't have classes with him as he was nearing retirement. That made me sad, especially since after the campus visit Prof. G. and I had a lovely email correspondence until I arrived here for my first semester. He instantly became my advisor, arranged it so that my first TA assignment would be for one of his undergraduate courses, and ended up teaching a graduate seminar I took in my first year. That seminar sparked an interest in me that has grown ever since; the paper I wrote for that class became a co-authored piece that Prof. G. and I currently have under review. In my second year, I found a neat off-campus program that I wanted to attend but couldn't afford on my own. Prof. G. found out about it and secured funding for me as well as a permanent space in this program for future graduate students interested in the same thing (it is widely believed that he paid for the bulk of the costs himself). When I was pregnant with ST, Prof. G. was thrilled for me and always encouraging, never making me feel like I was "less" of a scholar even when I felt like that myself (hard not to when one is surrounded by a lingering odor of regurgitated breast milk). He prepared me well for my comprehensive exams. Despite the fact that he made me do a zillion drafts of my prospectus, I know that the project is better for it. And now, as I am in the final months of my Ph.D., he is helping me again to finalize my overseas plans. He has used his contacts to make many things a lot easier for me than they otherwise would have been.
I hope that someday I have the opportunity to take the same kind of interest in a student as Prof. G. has in me. I hope that someday I will find the appropriate words to thank him for everything -- everything. I think of the day that I receive my doctoral hood and get all teary-eyed when I think that he -- the man who has inspired me in so many ways -- will be the one to place it around my shoulders. Knowing the kind of man he is, perhaps that final demonstration, the placing of the hood, will be thanks enough.
*What's especially neat is that I met the man who wrote the first dissertation Prof. G. directed. I have a picture of the three of us together, and it always makes me smile (despite the fact that I'm in profile which, as you know, highlights one of my less-than-lovely features). UPDATED to add: When it rains, it pours. I just talked to my other advisor, Prof. C., who had some extremely interesting and very bizarre job news for me. I tell you, these guys look out for me. The further along I get in the job hunting process, the more convinced I am that it's ALL about who you know.