When I used to think about pursuing a doctorate, there was always one detail that seemed to deter me: research. My identity as an educator was clear to me, that of a researcher – not so much. More than once I said to myself, “I know I love to teach, but could I really see myself doing research?” I had it in my head that research was this utterly boring and tedious task often asked of a professor merely to support or advance the mission of an academic institution. However, it has proven to be one of the most intriguing and rewarding practices I have ever experienced.
If there is one thing that this doctoral journey teaches me day after day it is that there is no limit to our learning and our understanding of the world in which we live. It has also taught me that it’s not the research that should scare you, it’s what you are going to learn about yourself as you become a researcher that you should be prepared for.
Research challenges you to think, understand, construct, deconstruct, accept or reject. After a while you realize that this begins to find its way into your everyday life. You will never read the news the same way again, nor believe every statistic you hear without considering the source or the context. Ignorance will become more obvious and your tolerance of it will exist in multiple dimensions. Sometimes you will speak up, sometimes you will remain silent. You will question before you answer, and your senses, your awareness, and your vision of the world will be forever changed.
There is no doubt that you have to be academically prepared for your doctorate. For some it is the next step in their career, for others it is the deliberate pursuit of knowledge. No matter where one sits on that scale, one should not ignore the profound personal journey that is embedded in becoming a researcher.