a vegan couple: eating; running; living–minimally.

Tag: phd

A Graduation Weekend to Remember

This past weekend I graduated with my PhD in Philosophy from SUNY Albany, finishing up 7 years of doctoral work and 9 years (yes, you read that correctly), 9 years of total graduate work. Often not really a labor of love, the dissertation has been my waking existence for longer than I care to remember. I have been in school for about 27 years or so (I think the math is right); It is strange to know that I am no longer a student.

The weekend, though, was incredible. Simply put, my family and friends (and there is very little difference between the two) threw me one hell of a party with more surprise cameos than a season finale of Saturday Night Live.

I will offer you a few highlights from the day, as well as some photos.

  • Preface: The only things I knew were going to happen was that I was going to graduate and that there was going to be a party—I had no idea about the details. I knew that some people were coming and others were not able to make it. I had know clue about any details. Any assumptions I had, however, were quickly dashed on the rocks of surprise…
  • Graduation was at 9am on Saturday. I arrived early and found two of my advisors. Even though I had the regalia on, and even though everyone was all lined up, I don’t think things really sunk in until we all got in line to walk across the stage…
  • It was then that I saw my brother (who wasn’t supposed to be there) acting like a paparazzi photographer (typical Jeremy).
  • I really just wanted the poofy hat.


  • We drove back to Syracuse for the party, which was at my parents house. It turned out to be one surprise arrival after another: Aunts and Uncles; cousins and nieces; family from all over the country (Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Rochester-Elmira-Gouvenour-Savannah-Syracuse NY); friends from near and far (Albany, Syracuse, Illinois, some I haven’t seen in years)

It was overwhelming. I literally could not string coherent sentences together. I have never felt so much love.


  • Even more amazing was that everyone pitched in to get me a much needed (and much appreciated) new laptop. The old one has lasted me almost 10 years. It basically held on until my dissertation was done, and I had a running joke with Katie that on graduation day it would simply go up in a poof of smoke.
  • I cannot thank Katie enough; she has been my biggest supporter and I think these last 9 years were as taxing on her as they were on me. Putting this party together with my family was a lot of work, and it kept a constant smile on my face to have her continually tell me that I had no idea what was coming next.

Oh yes, and by the way: Saturday May 19 was Katie and my 6th wedding anniversary. What a special weekend indeed.

Well, there you have it. Yet another chapter in my life is complete; another door opens onto a future that is yet to be written. I am very happy to be done, but until I am able to truly use my degree (in some capacity) I don’t think that I will really feel any different. I can only live today, this moment, and be aware and conscious of what I do with my life, my talents, and my passions. Not knowing where we will go next is exciting, and I hope that all of you will be around to see where the journey takes us.

Live Más. Run Más


Moving Forward: Passing my Dissertation Defense

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.


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