Monday, January 6, 2014

Can't Nobody Tell Me Nothing: On Graduating

Hey, y'all!!! Happy Monday. 

December was a busy month! It brought my students' final projects (which meant lots of grading for me), determining final grades, and celebrating the holidays.  I was tied up! It feels good to be back blogging again.  Merry (belated) Christmas, Happy (belated) Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, & Happy New Year!

First, a little mood music for today's post.  Today I have selected "Can't Tell Me Nothing" by my hubby's favorite, Kanye West. Honestly, you only get a few opportunities in life to really flex and feel like "can't nobody tell you nothing" as Kanye puts it, and graduation was one of them.

"Wait 'til I get my money right." ~ Kanye
He ain't lying. 

This song is off of his Graduation album, which fits nicely with today's post - finally getting hooded at graduation!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I defended my dissertation this summer.  It was a great learning experience. I received my degree over the summer and moved on to my new teaching gig.  During the fall semester, I received an email from my alma mater asking if I wanted to participate in the fall commencement exercises.  I went back and forth for a while about whether walking across the stage and being hooded was necessary.  I finally decided that it was.  I mean, during the Ph.D. process, the dream of hearing my name announced and being hooded were the only things that kept me going.

So I decided to participate in the fall commencement exercises.  Because they were held right before Christmas, this meant that I'd also have the pleasure of hosting Christmas in the DMV again this year.  Last year my family traveled here from Houston for my grandfather's funeral and decided to stay for the holidays, but this year we were coming together under much happier circumstances.

Graduation was being held in the evening, so we decided to host a brunch prior to the graduation.  My husband, with the help of my girlfriends and family, planned a wonderful brunch. Thanks to Mulligans at the University of Maryland Golf Course for such a delicious spread!
Is this not the cutest table decoration? Thanks Dr. K!
It was so cool to have folks from my professional, academic and personal lives all come together, including:
Long-time friend and collaborator, Dr. D. came out.

Two of my mentors -  Dissertation chair and committee member 

My advisor. I've written about her here. She changed my life! 

My mommy mingling with my friends
My folks and my in-laws. 
My folks all the way from Houston!  

Dr. K and my girlfriend KW who made it all the way from the Virgin Islands

My Auntie Lucy
We mixed and mingled.  My family and friends said some very sweet and encouraging words, and then I gave a thank you speech accompanied by the ugliest of ugly cries. 

After brunch, it was time to head over to the graduation ceremony.
A pre-graduation selfie

My sister, mom, and mother-in-law waiting for graduation to begin
I was sooo grateful that graduation was short and to the point.  Seriously, the whole thing was under an hour.  That's the beauty of a mid-year graduation, 'cause I've attended enough May graduations to know that this short graduation ceremony was a rare gift!

My girl, Dr. E and I waiting to be hooded
Dr. C fixing my hood while my cheering section went wild.
In that moment, couldn't nobody tell me nothing. 

And after the ceremony, you know we took more pictures, of course. 

My Dr. RAP!!! We met many moons ago when I was a master's student.
She's been an undying supporter over the years.
I love her dearly and I thank her for many of these pictures. 
One of my former students who was getting her master's degree
A big part of the Peanut Gallery that was at the ceremony
There are so many people, near and far, who made graduation possible.  I had family and friends who couldn't make graduation or the brunch, but who were there in spirit, and this meant so much.  I always say that my Ph.D. belongs to so many people.  It's a win for all those who have had an impact on my life.  I think back to a crucial moment during my 3rd year, when I was sitting by myself drafting a resignation letter to quit my program.  I just didn't think I could do it.  I was at capacity, financially and intellectually (so I thought).  I just didn't think I could take any more.  I know that it was the prayers and encouragement of others that kept me going.

If you're a doctoral student reading this and feeling like you can't go on, academically or otherwise, you can.  I'm pulling for you, and I bet that there are so many others in your circle, known and unknown, that are doing the same.  I've added unknown doctoral students to my prayers, just because I know that sometimes divine intervention is the only thing that gives us the gumption to go on.  You're covered. Amen.

Even though I received my diploma months ago, it felt good to participate in the ritual.  I love traditions, and I'm glad I made the decision to participate.

My favorite pic of the day.  Thanks to my husband for capturing such a special moment.
There's nothing like seeing pride in your parents' eyes. 
Until next time . . . I'll be over here lifting up struggling doctoral students.  Keep pushing so that one day, like Kanye, can't nobody tell you nothing.


  1. Awesome... I hate that I missed it. NEXT TIME.....(LOL)

  2. Beautiful, you've inspired me! Congrats Dr. Toya Jones Frank…to God be the glory for your accomplishment and acknowledgement of the village that supported you. Wishing you a wonderful career! Oh, the places you'll go! :) Shelli Carpenter Farquharson (Shawn's FCPS colleague)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! To God be the glory!

  3. Congratulations to you. So very happy for you. :)