my graduation speech
ok… so I graduated on Sat. Jan 17, 2009. Both my faculty advisors introduced me and they said such nice things about me – I was incredibly touched and grateful (and incredibly embarrassed!)
My dissertation defense was on Jan 15 – and it went well. The main question was when would I publish and which tack should I take… but honestly, I have to finish the edits and officially graduate first!!!
They told all of us who were graduating that we had 2 minutes to give our acknowledgments and I am such a good doobie, I only took 2 minutes – but I wanted to say just a bit more. So here is my 3.5-minute speech!
* * *
I would like to begin by sharing a poem:
by Margaret Atwood
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
_ _ _
I am so grateful for having been found – again and again, by family and friends, by poems and stories, by ideas and theories, by clients and supervisors, by teachers and peers, by students and colleagues. I have been found and brought home time after time and for that I am so grateful.
Anyone who knows me well knows I love children’s literature. I have read several book series many times. Pullman’s series, His Dark Materials, Madeleine L’Engle’s series, A wrinkle in time, Lemony Sniket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, and of course, JK Rowling’s Potter series. I love a good story!
I love the catch in my breath, when I realize I am being swept away – when I recognize a truth that only exists in fiction (as it does in all art) – when I recognize myself and those I love in the beauty of the never-quite-wholly-true, the glimmer of recognition, the glimpse of the known, the sweet bitter tension of the impossible.
This is what has found me at Fielding.
I have been lucky to have three lives at Fielding. The first was my life in the Alonso cluster. There I learned the power of the group, the maxim that homicide is better than suicide – that is, not to be afraid of my anger, my power, and my ability to survive – and the beauty of postmodern psychoanalytic relational ideas – namely, the idea of being able to bear the constant tension between recognizing the other and asserting the self. There I learned the importance of giving generously to the group, because we can always have more-of-the-whole in the group.
My second life at Fielding was in the Cramer cluster. That is where I learned how to be a Puerto Rican frizzy haired mother, suburban professor, who was also a solid clinician and clinical supervisor. Marge, your ability to bear and name the projections of your students and clients was inspiring – I learned so much from you. Your ability to make a space where I could share not only my growth as a clinician, but also my anxieties about becoming a “suit” in the process was essential. Your encouragement to pursue my interest in class dynamics and your enthusiasm for my project from the beginning was so important for me. I hovered for a long time before landing on a topic and you held the space for me to do that with humor, poking, and love. Thank you.
My third life in Fielding has been as a researcher. I have loved my dissertation project from beginning to end. This project gave me the opportunity to contain many contradictions and multiple identities in a way I wouldn’t have been able to without the daring ideas of other researchers in the field, without the love and support of my dissertation support group and closest friends, and without the stories that my participants shared. Ruthellen, your work as a leader in the field of narrative research has not only been an inspiration, but has given me the courage to be bold in my thinking and writing. Your edits and suggestions made the work much stronger. I hope that you’ll encourage me to continue to be bold. Thank you for being my scholarly role model.
Lastly, I can’t go without thanking my family and friends. While I know that you have often had to sacrifice an available wife, a cooking mom, a happy friend, a devoted daughter and niece, for a stressed out, sleep-deprived, preoccupied one – you have also supported me and allowed me to pursue a passion that has let me not only love ideas, but also become all the me I can be to love all the you you can be. Words are not enough. Thank you!