Moving Forward: Passing my Dissertation Defense

by nomeatbarefeet

This is the *real* Dr. John. The noticeable difference is that my name is spelled without the “h.” (Just in case you have trouble telling us apart.)

So on Tuesday April 16 2013 at 9:00 am (EST) I began the defense of my PhD dissertation.

This moment has been 7 years in the making (not to mention the other 2 years for the Masters work). To say I was nervous or anxious is too blunt a description of my emotional state—what I was feeling was so complex, it is hard to describe. So I won’t. I’ll just say that afterwards, the response from my committee was that I was relaxed, poised, and reflective. Too bad I didn’t feel any of those things at the time 🙂 Well, after one and a half hours of questions and insightful conversation I stepped out to await the decision of the tribunal. I walked over to the grad-student office, set my bag down and immediately headed for the bathroom (a bucket of water will do that to you). I had this sneaking suspicion that the committee would finish up while I was in the bathroom—sure enough, Jason poked his head in and slyly called me back in…

…so that I could be congratulated as Dr. Auyer. It was a surreal moment (not unlike the moment after I married Katie). The air seemed a bit crisper; my senses a bit sharper; I might have been floating (just a bit) above the floor; things seemed to be rushing by but at slow pace. It was odd.

While it feels so good to be done, it feels even stranger to not have to think about dissertation work anymore. It has been a part of my life for 7 years now; it has been a part of Katie’s life as well. Sitting on the couch later that night we both reflected on this fact, that it is done, that we will be moving forward into something new.

I am thankful to Katie for everything she has been to me. I am excited. I wanted to share this moment and these feelings with all of you. Thanks for listening.

I want to end by simply reflecting on the fact that while I am rejoicing my moment of triumph, many in Boston are grieving and questioning the meaning of their moment. Theirs was supposed to have been a happy, fulfilling moment shared friends and family watching and cheering. Instead it was a moment of terror and sadness. I am running a race this weekend, and I will run with them in mind, I will run with the thought that nothing is certain, that no moment is ever truly secure and safe, and that while we may never make sense of nor find meaning in the absurdity of death and violence we must continue to embrace each moment we have as something unique and special.

Run. Más.