On Friday, I finished my PhD candidacy exams with an oral exam of my thesis proposal. It was an incredible discussion, with a group of people who I admire as much for their approach to their work as for the work itself. Each committee member was recruited because they are the best person at our university in their respective field. I mean, to the point that if I blew it, I’d been half-joking about having to quit my day job because I work regularly with many of them in other committees and projects. An amazing committee, and they gave me valuable feedback and guidance to refine the thesis plan and get to work.


Doing this kind of thing during a global pandemic is kind of a surreal experience. We met in Zoom. Signatures happened via emailed PDF documents. I didn’t go to campus to give my presentation in person - I presented from a spare bedroom in my home. It didn’t feel much different than any other pandemic workday. It’s taking awhile to sink in as a result.

But. I’m now a PhD Candidate. I was reminded to change my email sig to include the (c) designation rather than student. I’m not a student anymore1.

I’ve got 9 pages of notes from the oral exam discussion to go through, and a couple of follow-up meetings with committee members who have more feedback to help me refine my plan. I’ll be starting work in September, developing a framework to incorporate research methods from the study of video games to describe teaching and learning. And then I’ll “play test” the research methods to see if they’re useful. And then I’ll write a bunch about it.

ABD sounds closer to being done than this is. The D part is the real work, and saying I’m done (except for doing the work) is confusing. This is maybe the halfway mark, not the final lap.

Anyway. A surreal but important milestone.

  1. yeah yeah. Student of life. Always. ↩︎