OHH NOOO, Spring Break is COMING….

Yes, I myself dread spring-break. I really do. When I was an undergraduate, spring-break literally and figuratively meant a BREAK. No homework, no readings, no nothing! Break was all about the beaches, drinks, and Netflix. You honestly did your best to break, and forget about academics for a week. But the golden days of truly “breaking” for spring-break are over once you enter grad school. Now, its about strategically using your time.

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Summer Job with Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs

I became a PhD student in the Department of Communication and Culture at IU after “retiring” from a career in Information Technology. IT was fine and the money was good but it didn’t give me the opportunity to grow intellectually. That said, IT work is still reasonably interesting to me and it has given me access to decent jobs around Bloomington when during the summer when my AI teaching stipend runs out.

This summer I have been working for the the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs* (DEMA) doing some web maintenance and updating work. While doing so, I got know the folks over at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program which is a program to help non-traditional and underrepresented minority students succeed in college. They offer tutoring, mentoring, special skills courses (for credit!), and a great community. One of their big events is  Continue reading

Keeping Track with my Mac (and iPhone)

A screenshot of my calendar.  Notice all the red, which forces me not to over commit!

A screenshot of my calendar. Notice all the red, which forces me not to over commit!  Photo courtesy of Stephanie N

I just recently retired my 6 year-old Apple Macbook (RIP buddy) and traded it in for a new Macbook Air. Since the beginning of tech time, there has been an eternal tech war about Macs vs. PCs. I had that battle myself Continue reading

Millennial Money Smarts!

Photo from https://financialliteracyseminar.eventbrite.com/

Photo from https://financialliteracyseminar.eventbrite.com/

Engaging graduate students in a discussion about long term financial preparation and success can be difficult. Who has time to think about retirement when I have a dissertation to write, rent to pay, and conference registrations?????

I am lucky enough to have a graduate assistantship that is grad student centered. Working with Indiana University Human Resources and TIAA-CREF we have developed a survey instrument to ask grad students what is important to them financially. Hopefully with this data IU can develop seminars focused on financial issues to better prepare graduate students for when they graduate and accept those amazing post-docs, tenure track professorships, or jobs in the public or private sector.

As a graduate student that has completed a Master’s degree and now in the dissertation stage of the PhD, I can say that it is difficult to plan long term when I have to address more immediate financial concerns such as student fees, rent/housing, other miscellaneous costs, and looming student loans. I am learning that I should still be saving for the FUTURE.

Why IU?


Image courtesy of ampathkenya.org

AMPATH is one of the main reasons that I chose a doctoral program in Epidemiology at IU.  AMPATH, the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, was established in 2001 as a partnership between Indiana University School of Medicine, Moi University School of Medicine, and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). Continue reading

Ph.D Before 30…Skipping the Workforce

I graduated from undergrad when I was 22. I graduated from my master’s program at 24. I am currently 26 and in the third year of my doctoral degree. I am the definition of the dreaded “professional student” who has skipped the workforce and has continued to matriculate through numerous degrees WITHOUT a single break. You may ask why I chose to not enter the workforce or take a break, and there is really one simple answer.


Each time I applied to a program, there were funding opportunities available for me to attend school tuition free, with fellowships, and with stipends to top the deal. For me, it was a simple decision. I continued to go to school because I was able to do so financially. Although funding was a big part of the decision, I should have considered all the pros and cons of skipping the workforce. Now in hindsight, I can share the good and the bad.

The BAD:

-School is exhausting. I’ve not given myself anytime between degrees to just let things absorb mentally and release all of the stresses that come along with higher education. At times it can be very tiring. It may have been good to at least take a semester off.


-Photo Courtesy of www.phdcomics.com by Jorge Cham


-Plenty of time to transition into academic life. I plan to finish before I’m 30, this will give me plenty of time to make decisions about my academic future, whether I decide to teach or do research, and I even have the option of taking a break once I’m finished. I feel like I’ve given myself a cushion to make crucial decisions concerning my future.

Ultimately, any route you take to higher education should be based on your own wants and needs. Take the time to consider the pros and cons. If your considering going back for your Ph.D and you’ve been in the workforce, I strongly encourage you to do so! Especially if there are readily available funding opportunities  Honestly, looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!


Main Event: Grad School v. Work Force

Fighting out of the blue corner : Graduate “Smarty Pants” School

Fighting out of the red corner : Full Time “Dollar Bills” Job

The blue corner came out swinging in my case. I knew that I wanted to at least get my Master’s right away. Coming from a private university where my upper level classes in Spanish and Gender Studies were small and intensive I wanted to keep the conversation going. Before there could actually be a legitimate ruling for the blue corner win, I sought out different internships and part-time positions in the fields I was most interested in. I worked and interned at health centers, non-profit organizations, and university offices. I also traveled during my summers so I could experience studying and working abroad.

The red corner made some gains as I dreamed of steady paychecks, set work schedules, and most of all NO MORE EXAMS AND PAPERS, but I knew that I couldn’t stop…at least not yet. With the support of my family I explained that graduate school was the necessary step in my academic journey. I spoke with professors, advisors, and internship supervisors to have a better idea of my options, but ultimately the decision was mine to make and I decided to apply and explain to different programs the importance of my future research.

Did I know exactly what I wanted to do? NO…but I had a general, yet lofty idea. That idea not only required a MA and PhD, but also work experience. From the B.A. -> M.A. -> Ph.D. (in progress) you could say I am a professional student, but I would have to disagree. While earning each degree I was a collegiate athlete (work), graduate assistant (work), or currently a research assistant (work).

Unfortunately, the decision, options, and circumstances are different for each person as to whether they should pursue full time employment after college or immediately apply to graduate school.

WINNER after a 10 second count : Graduate “Smarty Pants” School