First year of PhD Recap...My Relationship with Statistics...And All The Juice

12:00 AM

I've been promising a PhD life update for a while now; so grab some water or tea and enjoy.

As you may know, I'm a doctoral student at University of Miami; I am done with the second semester of my second year. It feels like, time flew by with the speed of light. I vividly remember coming to Miami for the first time to do my interview for the program. The insane traffic and the annoying drivers. I fell in love with the trees! They stood tall by the road and just danced with the wind. Miami, hmmmmmmmm....well, I'm here now.

I had very pleasant imaginations of what graduate school will be like before I enrolled; I was in la-la land. I imagined plenty free time, laying on the beach, and one or two evening classes every week. You can see I must have been drinking too much coke. The few classes were accurate, the free time, let's say something closer to zero.

My first semester, I was a lost puppy. Please note prior to this time, I considered myself 'smart'. I remember sitting in class thinking, 'this requires a much more higher brain function than I anticipated'. But I was excited about it; for the first time, I found myself constantly thinking. There were nights I won't sleep. I was playing research questions and hypotheses over and over in my head. Until my mum begged me to start sleeping again. I finished my first semester with my first 'almost-literature review paper'. Yes! Almost! I did that paper being very confused and it turned out better than I anticipated. This woke up something in me 'Writing'. During this semester, I got to know my population of interest (HIV infected youth) better, and I was blown away by how much I learned.

On my way to the clinic

My second semester, I wasn't so lost. Literally, I stopped getting lost in school and parking lots. My classes were not difficult, but the work.....hmmmmm was work. I kept hours that I didn't even think was possible; like wake up at 7 am and go to bed at 2 am (you see why I'm always preaching sleep, Winie is sleep-deprived). I took two method classes (quantitative and qualitative). This was my first time hearing about qualitative method of research. Now, I'm a born story-teller, it was really love at first sight for me and my darling Qual (Qualitative Method). I'm seriously considering using a qualitative method for my dissertation (fingers crossed). The highlight of my second semester was a concept analysis paper from my Epistemology class. That paper really really really whipped my behind. I started out being very confused about my concept and when I finally figured it out, synthesizing the literature wasn't as easy as I hoped. Too many conflicting evidence and just this lack of clarity. But I pulled through, and when I clicked that 'submit' button, I was floating in the cloud.

October last year, I finally birthed a dream I had for a long time. Remembering it right now just made me emotional. I remember in my second year in college (undergraduate), I wrote a bunch of poems and I wanted to submit it for a competition. One of my professors looked at it and gave me some critique - which was not bad. But something in me just gave up; I keep wishing that I pressed on and submitted those poems. I spent the next few years continuously suppressing the thoughts of non-academic writing, and convincing myself that I won't be good enough.

Something in me snapped last year. All those insecurities disappeared, I damned all the consequences and submitted an article to Bella Naija. If you had seen me, you would have thought I was interviewing with the President. I kept on refreshing my email and pacing around my apartment. When I got that email that my article was published, wow...there were no words to describe the feeling. I know it might not be a big deal to a lot of people, but in that moment, I really felt like I had given birth to something.
Check out my first article "Tolerating Mr. Phil" . My second semester will always be memorable.

My third semester, was when I started blogging and I was in a relationship with 'Statistics'. I shared three lessons statistics taught me, a few weeks ago. My people, it was not a small matter. Prior to this time, I considered myself a ''mathematician". Well, turns out that this class blew that out of water. It was a rough start for me, but I was able to pull through with the help of my God, my professor, and my colleagues. During this semester, I also took classes on scientific writing and crafting a dissertation proposal. The scientific writing class was my first systematic review paper. A lot of people confuse a literature review with a systematic review; while that deserves a special post, a major difference is that a systematic review is more detailed and captures the length and breath of the scientific literature better than a literature review. I will talk more about this in another post. In my crafting a dissertation proposal class, I wrote a draft  of the three chapters of my dissertation. There are no words to summarize the benefits of that class. This class put some of my fears about a dissertation to rest and put so much confidence in my journey to a PhD.

A lot people have asked why the doctoral program at University of Miami is only 3 years. I hope this brief recap answers some of the questions. The highlights of my program are:
a) Immediate pairing with faculty members who have the same or similar research interests
b) Immersion with your population of interest which helps you clarify your own interest or informs your decision for adjustment or complete change
c) Classes that assist you to produce publishable papers that will beef up your resume
d) Starting your dissertation process VERY EARLY.

I hope you enjoyed my recap. I'm grateful to God for everything.

 If you are considering a PhD in Nursing and/or you have more questions, you can contact me. I'll be happy to assist in any possible way. I'm looking forward to your comments. Until the next post.....

Have a Winning-Day

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  1. WOW. Congratulations!! May God continue to bless your handworks.

  2. Succeeding through graduate school can sometimes be one herculean task especially when you are research-oriented or registered for a full time program. But then, there is a saying that there is no gain without pain. This is very applicable in this situation.
    One thing I do that keeps me going in tough times however, is keeping my eyes on the prize. And that's one of the things I feel all students that want to succeed should always do.

    Nice article Winnie !! I always look forward to read from you.

    1. Thank you Blessing! You make a very strong point. Keeping my eyes on the Prize has definitely been one of my strongest opinions. Sometimes on the bus, I just close my eyes and imagine walking across the stage to get my degree and that feeling is wohooo! Thanks for your vote of confidence. I look forward to sharing more too.

  3. Hi Winnie,

    Grad school seems so tough, but Im happy to see you're hanging in there. Stay strong & hang through it doll!!


    1. Hi Shannon,
      YAY! Welcome to my Blog! You are very correct! Grad school has its tough moments; but it has produced a lot of amazing qualities in me. Thank you so much! I look forward to visiting your blog often.


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