[Editor’s note: the guest essay below is adapted from award-winning journalist John McCaa’s commencement address at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at the University of Texas at Dallas on December 17, 2015. — LDB.]
Lots of Questions, but No Shortcuts
By John McCaa
Fellow scholars, I know what you have been through.
I stand here reminded of the times I had submitted for my advisor’s review the latest draft of my dissertation — reminded of the hope, the confidence, I felt, as I drove toward campus to hear his thoughts (most assured that I had dazzled him!), only to sit down in the chair in his office opposite him and see that look most of us have received from our advisors at some period or another in the writing stage.
And I returned to the house despondent, knowing how much more work was ahead of me before I would be ready to defend. And yet, dejected as I was, I also recall the comforting words of my wife, reminding me, “This is supposed to be hard; they don’t just give away PhDs.”
So never mind “that look” — I can still remember the smile on my face and the faces of my professors when they called me back into the room after my defense and said to me, “Congratulations, Doctor McCaa.”
See, you have a right to be proud, and to enjoy these moments.
But just know that in the days ahead, you will probably encounter fear about your work again. This may be especially important for some of you younger graduates to know ahead of time.