Careers, Dissemination

My PhD qualifying exam was hell – but it doesn’t define me

From Science Magazine

Reading Time: 2 minutes

My Ph.D. adviser had encouraged me to take a vacation. So I was sitting at an airport restaurant, sipping a margarita, when I received the email. It informed me I had failed my qualifying exam on my third attempt, which meant dismissal from the program. I knew things hadn’t gone perfectly. A day earlier my committee had told me it needed more time to decide whether I passed. But I was still dumbfounded. How was it possible that one exam—1 hour of my life—could erase all my other successes and define me as unfit to be a scientist?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started my Ph.D. program. As an Afro-Latinx first-generation college graduate, I didn’t have family members who could tell me what it was like. I had worked in a lab as an undergrad student and I assumed I was prepared for what was to come. But I struggled with my classes during my first year, spending countless hours receiving tutoring and studying in the library. Often, I had to interrupt my reading to look up the definition of scientific words and concepts.

Read the full article by GABRIELA LOPEZ (and don’t worry it does have a happy ending):

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