2013 was a banner year for challenges.  There were losses:  first, in February, the unexpected death of the husband of one of my best friends; and second, in July, the sudden and unexpected death of my own sister.

Of course, there were the additional challenges associated with these deaths – supporting my friend as she reeled from her loss and the stress resulting from my own family’s struggle with decisions regarding the withdrawal of life support measures after my sister’s catastrophic injury.  Life was hard.

Less important (when compared to those major events), but critical to my academic life were: (1) a change in plans for my dissertation work; (2) my advisor’s move to another university; (3) identifying and trying to build a relationship with a new dissertation committee chair; and (4) preparing for and passing my qualifying exam.

Things –> revised graduation timeline –> Exhausted and Discouraged April

So, why am I telling you all of this?  Well, to show you why TEAM APRIL is so important.  TEAM APRIL is a very special group of friends and family that are supporting me on this doctoral quest.

Team April2

When I am exhausted and feeling discouraged, it is the love and support of this group as evidenced by phone calls, text messages, Skype calls, time spent together, etc., which keeps me going.  These are the people that I turn to.  They help me remember why I choose this program.  More importantly, they remind me that there is life beyond this ivory tower.  There are many laughs to be shared, song to be sung (as though we are rock stars, of course), and just time to be spent together.