Yesterday was a momentous day. I defended my dissertation. It was nerve wracking and a rush at the same time. The good news is that I PASSED!
It was unexpected, but I was very glad that a Deaf woman attended my defense. No one told me that she was coming, but she came with 2 interpreters. She is the first Deaf grad student at Biola. :) As I talked with her before the defense started I felt my nerves calm greatly. I was relieved to have a Deaf person there. I can't explain exactly why it was comforting, but it was. We talked at length after the defense and I learned a lot about her. I look forward to getting to know her more. Amazing young woman.
Before we started, Dr. Judy read from Philippians 2 and prayed. She started crying as she read it and told me not to cry before my defense. That was hard because I really wanted to just break down and cry. She read:
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Then she said that throughout my dissertation it was clear that I placed the Deaf community above myself and that my passion was inspiring. She was in tears and then prayed. Wow. What a way to start. It was moving for me too.
They asked MANY challenging questions. Only a couple of them really made me think and I wasn't sure if I answered it the way they wanted. They didn't give me much feedback on those questions. Other answers they interacted with me and they even joked a few times. That made me nervous.
They then asked me to leave as they conferred. I sat in the lounge talking with the Deaf woman and we had a great talk. She said it was the first defense she had attended. I told her it was my first as well! :)
After a few anxious minutes, they called me back in and Dr. Judy come over and looked me in the eyes with tears and said, "Congratulations Dr. Barbara O'Brian Garrett!" and hugged me. Then Dr. Barber shook my hands and said "Congratulations Doctor!" And Dr. Hayward did the same. I thanked Dr. Judy for all her help and for sticking with me through all of the years. She's been amazing. She nodded but said nothing.
What an amazing experience. Overwhelming and exhilerating at once. Dr. Judy said that I needed to publish this dissertation and I told her I wasn't sure I was ready to write on this anymore. But she encouraged me to work on it and get it published because she said it had a lot to offer and discussion surrounding this needed to take place. I just felt like the guy in this comic strip.
But seriously... maybe I will work on that. She encouraged me to really consider it. I wouldn't have to do much to publish it. Maybe this summer. I guess it depends on life and my own enthusiasm about it. Scrapbook or write? Hmmmmm
I had paperwork to do and visited the bookstore for a little while. Later when I returned, I ran into a student I had taken classes with years before. She was in the hallway waiting for them to decide about her dissertation. She was crying and was very nervous. I encouraged her to calm down. She said that she got the impression from them that there were some major flaws in her research and something about the cultural piece not being strong enough or something. It wasn't clear to me. But she was very upset and she clearly thought she had not passed her defense. Yikes. I could tell from the other people around that they were equally concerned. I asked her what happens if she doesn't pass? She said she didn't know and then really started to cry. I encouraged her and stood with her as long as I could. It was very difficult. It set me on edge and I was thankful my defense went so well.
Linda Crews and I met up that afternoon and went to a lovely dinner at Kincaid's on the Redondo Beach Pier. This was the view from my seat outdoors. It was a gorgeous California day. We enjoyed a wonderful meal but even better conversation. Linda's always been a spiritual mother to me and this evening was no different. She is a woman of Godly advice and one of the ONLY people that I can share some of the deep spiritual things I face. Our time together was truly a blessing. I look forward to more of those kinds of times. I couldn't have asked for a better celebration.