This post originally appeared on the Gerontology Institute blog, written by alumna Kristen E. Porter, PhD, MS, MAc, LAc, JP
I was the 67th graduate of the UMass Boston Gerontology PhD program when I received my degree in 2015. I spent one year from proposal to successful defense with no revisions. At the time, I was the 11th fastest to graduate.
But it wasn’t the breeze it might appear to be on paper. While in the program, I was the president of a company, a foster parent to numerous children ranging in age from newborn to teen, and primary caregiver to my mother and grandmother. During this time my mother, grandmother, father, and business partner died and I underwent nine surgical procedures and survived sepsis.
Life happened. But if we let it happen to us it can derail our goals. For me, to not only survive but also thrive required grit, commitment, and creativity. In seeking to find support for my own dissertation writing, I created a peer dissertation writing group in 2013. Writing a dissertation was as much a rigorous intellectual challenge as it was a personal challenge to finish regardless of how life happened. Long past my graduation, the group continues to support UMass Boston students complete their dissertations.