Reflections of a First-Year Ph.D. Student

Wow. Eight classes later, and my first year as a Ph.D. student is over. I don’t think a year in my life has ever gone faster, and I know I’ve never been busier. Also, my classes have never been this engaging, and I’ve never been around so many people with interests similar to mine. Honestly, it’s been a good year.

Here are some of the highlights in [roughly] chronological order:

  • Joining the CCR Graduate Circle, a group of really devoted people who are passionate about fostering departmental community.
  • Potlucks with the Profs. Okay, this is kind of an extension of the former (which may be cheating), but I love this event. The Circle hosts potlucks with different professors a couple times a semester, and it allows us to hang out with professors who we may not see on a regular basis. This is awesome on three levels: I get to meet new professors, hang out with people in the department, and eat really awesome food. Seriously? The people in this department are serious about potlucks. They bring it.
  • Taking classes in the Disability Studies Program. I have always had very personal interests in dis/ability but have never had the opportunity to take a DS course. The courses I have taken and the scholarship I’ve read has already greatly influenced my own research interests. [Fun fact: SU is home to the nation’s first DS program.]
  • Hosting the department Halloween party. Disclaimer: I’m not the most sociable person. As new people in town, though, my partner and I wanted to reach out to people in the department, and it turned out to be a great time!
  • Publishing a book review. A very dear mentor edits this recently launched journal, which houses a combination of scholarly articles, creative works, and reviews. The Question of Access is an excellent read, and it was great having the opportunity to review it.
  • IWCA and CCCC. This was my first time going to Cs, and I loved it! I met a lot of great people and attended a number of really inspirational, interesting panels. The IWCA Collaborative before Cs was also a nice, low-pressure opportunity to meet really engaged writing center folks.
  • Organizing a conference. This year, the Circle decided to take on a major project: organizing a conference that would reach out to students, faculty, and community members. On May 5th, we hosted the inaugural Conference on Activism, Research, and Rhetoric. Although it may have been a somewhat naïve decision to agree to be on the core organizing committee while taking four classes, it was a great experience and such a wonderful event!
  • Publishing a peer-reviewed article. Wow. Wow. Wow. At the end of last semester, I did a multimodal project about disability and accessibility within writing centers—specifically, the SUWC. When Praxis: A Writing Center Journal put out a call for papers about multiliteracies, I began thinking about how my research fit within that theme. I submitted a draft in January, was accepted by the editor in April, and today, the spring issue was launched!

So, it’s been a good one. I think back to the first day of classes—being so nervous that I couldn’t eat anything before class—and smile. I didn’t know what I was in for, but it is not at all what I expected. Where I feared competition, I found community. When I worried about isolation (from the fellowship), I found friends. When I was nervous about sharing my work, I found encouragement and an overwhelming amount of support.

I still have two conferences left this month (RSA and Computers & Writing), and then I’m looking forward to rejuvenating a little bit over the summer—taking time to read (for fun!), revising some projects, and maybe taking this really cool online course about web accessibility. I’ll definitely continue blogging over the summer break—hopefully even a bit more regularly.

Here’s to the end of a great first year. Thank you so much to all involved!


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