Graduation

At the end of last spring semester, I decided I would ‘walk’ for my Masters. It seemed like a pretty good idea. Besides, during my initial visit weekend at UMD, one of the more advanced graduate students had mentioned that she participated in graduation ceremonies for her Masters and it was a good way to celebrate the process. Cause, you know, the process can seem so long, and you need a way to remind yourself that you are making progress; there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I also knew that if I didn’t decide then that by the time official paperwork was due (i.e. mid-semester) I would be completely unmotivated to do so. There’s something about being in the middle of a hectic, overwhelming semester that makes you not want to participate in life.

As expected, by the time mid-spring semester rolled around I was totally not feeling it. Actually, mid-fall semester I was completely not feeling anything. We’ll just call it the worst semester ever. #seriously I was experiencing all the emotional lows. I’m surprised I even still have friends after that semester. (There was definitely an intervention replete with wine and chocolate.)

Even during the last few weeks leading up to graduation, I was still not excited. I was perhaps the most unexcited graduate ever. I had ordered and mailed the cutest invitations (s/o to Ziggy for the senior head-esque photo shoot), coordinated flight arrivals/departures, planned a weekend of activities for incoming guests, figured out catering for the celebratory dinner, and basically over-thought and over-stressed myself out about the entire ordeal. Ahhh. . .yes, I had really stressed over if everything would go smoothly, if everyone would be happy, if the mix of friends would mix well. And, as I was expressing all these anxieties to a friend, he said: Remember, everyone is there to support you. It’s your day, and they want you to be happy.

Wendy's Graduation Invitation

And, you know what? He was right. Everything went so much better than I ever could have anticipated! There was lots of great food, laughs, sightseeing, friendly debates (because yes all my friends are pretty much nerds), and overall wonderful memories. As per usual, my worry was unwarranted.

UMDSocyGrads

 

WendyWalks

 

 

UMDGrad

 

 

WendyFamily

 

WendyFriends

 

 

The face you make when no one - not friends, not family, not even your dad! -will let you give your graduation speech!
The face you make when no one – not friends, not family, not even your dad! -will let you give your graduation speech!

 

Two years have flown by, but it wouldn’t have been possible with God’s provision – with this opportunity to be in graduate school, daily needs, and a supportive community. Without the immense support of friends, family, and strangers, this would not have been possible. I look forward to the next few years and receiving my PhD. Next graduation, I’ll have my speech ready and y’all are gonna give me the floor!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might think or ask.
Ephesians 3:20

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Summer 2014 To Do List

After having an end of the year/the year ahead powwow with my advisor, here’s what we came up with as realistic goals for things to do this summer:

1. Send Second Year Paper out for publication

2. Study for comprehensive exams; my two specialty areas are Stratification and Social Psychology

3. Complete another iteration of my racial project paper; I started this paper in Sociology of Knowledge this spring

4. Conduct and transcribe more interviews for BGLO project. BTW if you know of, or are, a/any non-Black members of NPHC organizations that would be interested in participating in a research project on experiences

5. Maximize my time/learning at ICPSR

Stay tuned for an update in the fall on my summer progress!

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Summers in Undergrad vs. Summers in Grad School

You know what I love about academia? Summers off!

You know what I hate about academia? Summers off!

Lol. Seriously, this whole “summers off” thing is such an illusion. Off is supposed to mean the end, not happening, straight chillin. None of these descriptors apply to grad school summers. There is this unspoken expectation that students are to be off quietly grinding away producing great work. Mmkay.

Last summer I had an internship at a boutique marketing and rebranding firm, and I also finished up the content analysis for my Second Year Paper. So I think that definitely counts as doing work.

This summer I’m headed off to ICPSR in a couple weeks, and in the interim I’m working on data collection for a project I’m working on with Matthew Hughey on non-Black members of historically Black Greek Letter organizations*. I’ll also be studying for comps in the fall, completing final revisions on my Second Year Paper to send out for publication (or should I say rejection because realistically speaking isn’t that what’s going to happen?), revising another paper, and going back through interview data from my nightlife project. This all is undoubtedly work.

I think the best thing to do, and as soon as possible, is for graduate students to not think there is a such thing as “summers off.” There is only not being in class. Summers off connotes all fun and games. Not being in class on the other hand signals more time to work on your own work. And, in the end, isn’t that what we want? More time to work on our own work. Ahhh summer!

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Almost There

It’s the end of the semester! It has flown by! Just when I started getting back into the groove, it was nearly over. Now here I am with just two days between me and freedom! Two days! (And rain is in the forecast for Friday! Yay!)

Am I stressed?
Oh, yes!
Completely irritated by things that truly do not matter?
Absolutely!
Ready to binge on chocolate and chips and dip?
Yes, yes, and yes!
But can’t because I’m attempting to lose ___ lbs before graduation next week?
You know it!

Who came up with the idea for graduation to be after the end of the semester anyways? Don’t the graduation schedulers know we need time to lose the stress pounds?

*exhale

Two days. That’s it. Two days and then I can breathe. . .momentarily. Lol

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Critical Race Initiative’s Parren Mitchell Symposium

Over the past several months, I’ve had the privilege of working on the Critical Race Initiative’s symposium in honor of the late Congressman Parren Mitchell. Tuesday night saw the culmination of all our hard work. Before I tell you how amazing the symposium and reception were, let me first tell you a little bit about Parren Mitchell.

Mitchell came from a family of leaders and civil rights activists and had a lengthy and noteworthy political career. He served in Congress for eight terms, spearheaded legislation that championed the rights of minorities, maintained close ties to his constituents and his family, and used his position to speak out against inequality and injustice. Mitchell was an astounding, trailblazing, take no prisoners, fearless individual. As I was searching through archival newspaper articles to get a sense of his politics and activism, I found some telling quotes. To give you an idea of his drive and spirit here are a few of my favorites:

“There comes a time in the lives of oppressed people when you must decide not to retreat. We retreated under Nixon; we retreated under Ford. Now it is time for us to draw the line and say we will retreat no further.”

“We are talking about more than just the Bakke case, but a system which attempts to keep the masses contained by keeping them out of work and robbing them of their manhood and a system which tries to control students by putting them in all white universities and putting 50 percent of them on probation and putting the rest of them out . . .”

The Washington Post
1977
“1600 Students Protest Bakke Case;
Students Protest Bakke Case”

 

Although Mitchell has decided he is ready to leave the life of a congressman, he made it clear yesterday that his anger over the nation’s social and economic injustices has not faded. When asked by a photographer to smile yesterday to have his picture taken, Mitchell replied:

“How can I smile, when 8.5 million people are out of work. Why should I smile?”

The Washington Post
1985
“Rep. Mitchell: Time For Something New”

 

“If you believe in fighting racism, you make a commitment for the rest of your life.

There’s no getting off that train.

You can’t say, ‘I’ve put five years in fighting racism and now I am finished.’

No, you are not finished.

Our job is to fight it every day, to continue to shove it down and when it rises up to shove it down even harder.”

1989 speech to the Baltimore teachers union observing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday

As you can see Mitchell was a man of character who was unafraid to not only voice his opinion but also take dynamic action in line with his beliefs. In addition to the endless ways he impacted the political arena, Mitchell also made a significant and lasting impact on the University of Maryland. In 1952, he became the first African-American to earn a graduate degree at UMD and that degree was in sociology. I think we often forget that we are not that far removed from the struggles and climate of the 1950s and that the ideals and goals of the Civil Rights Era must continue to be worked for and towards because we are not yet there, as recent events underscore.

At the symposium, four professors presented their research on different aspects of underrepresented minorities and the educational system from pre-K to the university level. Each presentation was extremely rich, and collectively they showed what the current challenges are to equitable education and what should be done to address them. Overall, the symposium highlighted how contemporary race relations, especially colorblind racism, along with many policy initiatives are working against people of color and equitable educational attainment and the creation of an equitable, diverse, and inclusive academy.

During the reception, we presented a mini-documentary on the legacy of Parren Mitchell at UMD, and State Delegate Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr., Parren Mitchell’s nephew, delivered the keynote address. Delegate Mitchell shared an array of personal stories about his uncle that spoke to Parren Mitchell’s dedication and commitment to public service. For Mitchell, holding a public office was not simply a title or a job but a lifestyle and lifetime commitment.

I am honored to have contributed to the organizing and executing of this Critical Race Initiative symposium and encouraged by Parren Mitchell. Mitchell is an example of both the ability we each have as individuals to positively and substantially impact the world around us and the importance of having a community of support as well as building and being a part of a devoted community.

 

 

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