Reflections of a Second-Year Ph.D. Student

The alternative title for this blog post is “The End of Coursework, aka the End of an Era.”

As of May 14th (the day grades were due), I am officially finished with coursework…forever. Twenty-one years of taking classes, and I’m finished (minus a couple informal classes for writing my prospectus and dissertation). It’s both a super good and super weird feeling, and a great way to end my second year.

Like last year, I thought it might be nice to reflect on some of the highlights:

Banner for HASTAC Forum, Dis/Ability: Moving Beyond Access in the Academy
The HASTAC forum I helped organize!


  • Teaching in the Writing Program. I taught WRT 105 (“Reimagining the Normal”) in the fall and WRT 205 (“Everyday Representations of Dis/Ability”) this past spring. It was nice to be back in the classroom after a year off and really interesting to teach content-focused courses. The curriculum at WVU is process-based and not inquiry-driven, so it was a shift to choose a productive inquiry with engaging articles.
  • J teaching in the WP. My partner teaches at SU now, too, which makes our lives significantly less stressful (20-minute walk to campus instead of a 1-hour commute). It’s also fun to be teaching the same classes as him again, so we can talk through ideas and activities.
  • Consulting. Like teaching, it was nice to be in the writing center again this year. Working in the writing center at WVU was a significant factor in my decision to pursue a Ph.D.
  • Conferencing. I went to IWCA in the fall (first time in CA!), CCCC and SUNY COW in March, and I’m gearing up for Computers and Writing in a couple weeks. 4Cs was actually one of the best conference experiences I’ve had so far. We had a well attended panel, I received thoughtful questions both during and after the presentation, and I went to a lot of good sessions—even though I have no desire to go back to Vegas.
  • Joining more organizations. This fall, I became a HASTAC scholar and organized a forum around dis/ability this semester. I was also invited to join the (national) IWCA graduate student committee and served on the (Syracuse) writing center committee.
  • Producing a podcast. I like working on projects, and even though I don’t listen to podcasts (audio doesn’t hold my attention), I’ve enjoyed working on This Rhetorical Life so much. We’ve published some awesome interviews with folks in the field who are doing impressive work, and we’ve received positive feedback about the project.
This Rhetorical Life Banner
The podcast initiative I co-produce!

Tomorrow, I start teaching my summer WRT 205 course, which I’m looking forward to because I’m using the same inquiry but redesigned the core assignments in ways that I think are more aligned with my own values as a teacher.

I’m also taking my comprehensive exams this summer, so most of the content on the blog will be exam-related as I read and take notes for August.

Two years down, two to go!


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