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My Journey Through Graduate School

Updated on September 30, 2014


The last four years have zoomed by as I look back. I think to myself, this was the hardest four years of my life. No wonder I am comfortable sitting on top of this mountain welcoming the wind blowing through my hair. Feeling the cool breeze on my cheeks – where has the wind been the last four years.

Well I am aware that it must have been there the whole time as the cliché time just passed me by popped into my head. But what really happened to the wind? I simply had no time to sit there and enjoy it. Moving so fast and working 25 hours a day I am not sure if it was the wind blowing or my racing mind creating a current like environment around me.

I am not sure if I believe that I have gotten this far. For right now I will have to let it resonate for a while. Believing in myself was not an easy process especially when improvement and changes were constant. But one day when all my requirements were completed one of my mentors said “Dr. Scoggins.” I almost looked around looking for her or him but then realized it was me she was speaking. Still all this remains a faint dream.

How Did I Do It?

Remembering what kept me a float in graduate school will always be held close to my heart and forever reliable. Some tips that helped me through my journey was remember how you got there – through arduous interviews and professionals recognizing your talents – don’t forget that. Also, time management is an essential skill and tool to have. The sooner you realize how to effectively manage all you have to do the more successful you will be.

Find colleagues with like mindsets and goals. Do not waste your time with others that will eventually bring you down. The program is already tough enough do not make it harder. Professors are your best asset, find a mentor or someone that can guide you when things get tough. Yes it will get tough at one time or another.

If your program requires the completion of a dissertation – which they should – write everyday. This advice was given to me and I did not take it and therefore I was in the beginning of my internship year frantically trying to pump it out. I got it done, but it could have happened in a smoother, calmer way.


What Happened To Me?

Let’s rewind a minute and talk about the times when I could still recognize what was occurring right in front of my face. You know the time before I was so overwhelmed that I could actually remember my name. For that we would have to go back about four years when I was accepted into graduate school and when I began keeping this dream in my pocket of becoming a clinical psychologist. So naïve was I to think that this program would not take me in and spit me out like a terrible meal.

Now traveling through time, I am in the process and recalling who I was four years ago and what perception of myself I wanted to project to others. What did I like to do for pastime? Who are my friends? Where do I like to go? All the things that got postponed in order to maintain focus and successfully conquer this grueling and rigorous program.

Who I Remember

What I do remember of myself included being a mother of 5, a wife and professional. In order to conquer my dreams also required me to quite my job. My job that I wholeheartedly loved. Looking back – the best and hardest decision I have made. Let’s mention that I did not come to this conclusion alone – my husband is my number one supporter. Oh one quick and maybe intentional oversight – when I started my graduate program I was 35-years-old. If anyone has returned to college as the “non-traditional” student aka the one that is older than everyone else, then you know what I was up against.

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Sitting On Top Of The Mountain

Despite losing part of me, I gained so much more of who I have become. In the present time, I am searching for a pastime, friends, places to go and who I am. So I sit on the mountain and ponder just those things. For now I am alright sitting on top without a care in the world. I am cognizant that I will shortly start the last phase of my training as a post-doc fellow and all is well. Again I sit there with the flowers moving back and forth as if they are singing specifically to me. Wow, I do want to sit here and listen forever, yet I am assured that this too will not last long and I will have to climb down from this mountain and carry on. In my mind I am celebrating since I’ve been told that coming down from a mountain is certainly easier than the climb. However, I cannot hide my excitement of what may occur in the journey when I carefully and with an exploring heart descend.


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    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Janis for the comment and compliment. It was a tough program, though I congratulate you on your service to mental health as well. We need all of us out there doing our best. Have a great day

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      This was so well-written, mdscoggins. I'm so impressed by your completion of your Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. WOW! And with 5 children, husband and household to maintain? You are a superwoman being:-) Congratulations on this massive accomplishment. I was too chicken to get my doctorate but still have aspirations to do so. But I'm happy as a Master's level therapist for now.

      You presented your journey with a poetic slant which made it easy and enjoyable to read. I also appreciate how you shared the difficulties and sacrifices (quitting your job) which kept it real. Thanks again, Dr. Scoggins. Voted up, useful, and beautiful.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Gail for the compliment. I can only hope to show my flaws as I go with the hopes to inspire and motivate others that they too can achieve their dreams. :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 2 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations, Dr. Scoggins,

      It's a wonderful thing to pursue your dreams, and even more wonderful to take some time to enjoy your achievements along the way.

      Thanks for sharing your journey so it can inspire others. Voted up across the board except for funny.

      Best Regards,

      Gail aka Happyboomernurse

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks billybuc :) Certainly a different view, a bit scary but most of all relieved.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo! Congratulations for a job well-done. How do you like the view up there? :)