Monday morning around 8am, I get a text message from one of my sista-friends asking me along with four or five other female doctoral students, “Where and what time are we working today?” Tuesday morning, same question…maybe a different person. Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday or Saturday morning, same question. It’s like clockwork.
This is the foundational underpinning of my support network. All of these ladies are doctoral students from a variety of disciplines: journalism, music education, anthropology, speech and hearing sciences, physics, and higher education student affairs. We have some differences based upon what we study, where we’re from, our undergraduate institutions, etc. Yet, we do have lots of similarities. One, we all identify as proud, strong, Black women. And two, we’re determined to get PhinisheD. It hasn’t been easy for any of us personally or academically in regard to research, meeting deadlines, or just staying motivated in general. But the beauty in all of that is that we have each other.
At any given time during the week, you can catch us the Pourhouse Cafe or Crumble, two of the best coffeeshops ever, or you might see us at Panera at one of the long tables with books all over the place and some lunch in between. We set goals, bounce ideas off each other, ask questions, and grind! I honestly don’t know how I would have made it to this point without my sista-scholars.
When you arrive to IU, I strongly encourage you to begin building your network immediately. Don’t wait until you get to dissertation stage. Find people whom you connect with and can hold you accountable so that you’re productive. And don’t be afraid to find some of those individuals outside of your department. I find it extremely beneficial to have accountability/writing partners in other disciplines. It helps me to become better at articulating my work in terms that folks outside of higher education student affairs or Black studies can understand.
Your support network, whether it be writing or simply your critical friends (which I’m also a part of in the School of Education) who can provide you with honest, substantive feedback on your work and ideas, will be your saving grace during your time at IU. Of course, your dissertation writing can be a very isolating process as you are the only person who can complete it. But having a writing support group sure does make it a little more bearable and keeps you on the road to getting PhinisheD.