Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

You know when you go to an interview and the hiring committee ask you to predict the future! The typical question: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Honestly, can we even answer this question? Don’t get me wrong I have asked this question and I have answered this question. We’re my predictions accurate? I don’t remember 😊

Today I was trying to make my way through my to-do list when I got a notification on my phone. It was one of those were you see a photo “on this days” years ago. I looked at it and it show me that:

10 years ago today I was hooded by my doctoral advisor, Dr. Ginger Watson and I celebrated my earning my doctoral degree (I actually had a bunch of revisions and didn’t really graduate until the end of summer but who cares I still partied like a rockstar!). I remember my mom and my brother came to celebrate with me and that was pretty awesome.

Doctoral advisor and a scholar who recently received her Ph.D. In their academic regalia.
Drs. Ginger Watson and Enilda Romero-Hall

5 years ago I was in Zurich, Switzerland leading a study abroad program with primarily undergraduate students and an alumni of the Instructional Design and Technology program from The University of Tampa. My co-coordinator Merrie was honestly the best! I don’t know how I would have finished this trip without Merrie! 💖

Switzerland study abroad program

Reflection on this post:

So I am now, 10 year later from getting hooded, wrapping up my first year as a faculty member at The University of Tennessee Knoxville. I am working on a research plan with my first doctoral student. I am conducting research with two additional graduate students. I am the graduate coordinator of the learning, design, and technology doctoral program and we are in the process of welcoming a nice group of doctoral students this fall (very exciting!). I am also working on other research and writing projects.

If you had asked me 10 years ago or even 5 years ago, where I was planning to be in ____ number of years, I do not know if I would have even been to come up with my current life. As we say in Panama: la vida es loca y a cualquiera le toca!

Your Goals

Unless you are independently wealthy or a master manipulator, you will have to work hard and make sacrifies to achieve your goals. I know to most people this may sound like a pretty obvious statement, but for some reason I get the impression that there are some who think that success just happens overnight. Trust me when I tell you I have made plenty of sacrifices to achieve pretty much everything that I have been able to accomplish including becoming a mother, purchasing materialistics things, and my professional accolades.

Right after I completed my undergraduate degree, I went on to do my master and doctoral degree. I studies non-stop for from my associates degree to my undergraduate to my master and then to my doctoral degree. Yes, I was a professional student for 12 consecutive years of my adult life. This does not include the two previous years of undergraduate studies that I did while I live in Panama (after graduating high school). By the time, I started my masters program, most of my friends (in Canada, the Unites States and Panama) were buying cars, buying houses, getting married, having kids, going on fancy vacations, and affording a lifestyle that I could not live because I was on a graduate student stipend.

But, I had a goal in mind. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Therefore, I just stayed focus.

Why do I share this? I share this because I see graduate students comparing their journey with the journey of others. Trust me when I tell you that those who made it to the end (who earned their degree) also made sacrifices. You may not see how they worked hard or the sacrifices they made, but as someone who has been there I can honestly tell you it was not easy for them either.

It is also here where I would like to re-share a prior post I wrote called “Failure.” Here is a quote from that post:

“In academic circles, it gets really competitive. Heck, in life people get really competitive. We start looking at what others are doing and assuming that everyone is “doing things,” “going places,” and basically just “living the dream.” But the reality is that we are all working towards our goals and we all have moments of failures. That is just life.”

I would like to modify the last sentence of that quote and say: But the reality is that we are all working towards our goals and we all have moments of failure, sacrifices, and hard work. Stay focus on your goals and what you want to achieve.

By the way, sometimes I need this reminder too.

#AECT2017 Early Career Symposium: Now Accepting Applicants

AECT’s Research and Theory Division will be hosting the 2017 Early Career Symposium this year sponsored by AECT. The symposium will be held as a half day online conference October 28th and at the annual AECT International Convention on Tuesday, November 7 (half day 1-6 PM starting with lunch) and Wednesday, November 8 (half day, 7:30AM – noon, ending with lunch together with the AECT Board), 2017, in Jacksonville, Florida. The symposium will thus engage participants in a day and a half of focused career mentoring and networking.

The symposium will reimburse Early Career faculty and Advanced Graduate Students with the conference fee ($395 for Early Career Faculty and $240 for Advanced Graduate Students). Reimbursements are pending submission of receipts after the symposium.



Dissertation Successfully Defended!

Dissertation Defense Dissertation Defense

On June 7, 2013 I successfully defended my dissertation. I was happy to hear the feedback from my committee members. It was good to know that all the effort and energy had paid off. More importantly, I was happy to share my research with other academics that cared about it.

The dissertation defense was more than anything a discussion of the results, revisions that could enhance the document and questions about the process. It was hard to believe that I had actually conducted the research and written the document. I know at some point during the data collection process I thought…”I am never going to finish this thing!”

I must say that I am extremely grateful to all my participants. I cannot say that enough! Now I am working on final revisions to the document and once I get the “thumbs up” from my dissertation chair, I will be printing and delivering my dissertation. In my head, I imagine the sky will open and voice will say “Woooohooo!” but it is more likely that it will be a simple paper exchange.

Since it is 4th of July tomorrow, I would like to say to all: “Happy 4th! Be safe and enjoy some fireworks.”

The Dissertation Journey – Part II

Here is a post on the second part of my dissertation journey. Since my last blog update my dissertation started moving fast. I completed the design and development of the simulation that I used in my dissertation research. I also completed recruitment and data collection procedures. After the data collection, it was time to start the data analysis. Throughout the entire research process, I was also re-writing chapters one, two, and three. Once I had completed my revisions to the first three chapters, I wrote chapter 4 and chapter 5. I have to say that it was a tremendously stressful period. I am very grateful for my family, friends and colleagues who provided words of support throughout the entire journey.

I don’t know if I can provide specific advise for others that are completing their dissertation but here are some of the important elements that helped me throughout the dissertation process:

1. Start writing early in the morning. You will get in a nice writing mood since it is nice and quite in the morning. I started writing at 5am every day for about two months and it was a good start to my day. It was definitely hard at first because I had to change my schedule but it was worth it.

2. Write every day.I got in a habit of writing every day as much as possible. You will not loose track of your ideas and you immerse yourself in the topic. Basically, you will get into a state of flow. It feels good. Also, it helps you keep up with your dissertation schedule.

3. Sacrifice a few weekends for dissertation work. I had to completely devote my time and energy to my dissertation for a few months. Social life and family life were very limited. Again, it helps to have a very understanding family and husband. Every weekend, I would would work a few hours (10 – 12 hours) in the lab. I would basically continue my writing flow during the weekends.

4. Read all the material for a section before you write that section. I divided my literature review into key sections that combined served as the basis for my research. I always finished reading all the articles, conference papers, and dissertations about the topic before I started writing about it. It helped me because I knew how to write and cite that specific section.

5. Think about recruitment in advance. One of the majors issues that I had with my dissertation was the recruitment of participants. I was collecting data from a fairly specific group and I was not expecting delays. If I could give one word of advice to others, it would be to plan for delays due to recruitment. Or, to have the connections in place to help you recruit the specific groups of participants you need to complete your research.

6. Limit your email, meeting, and social networking time. This is pretty self-explanatory advice. The better you are at organizing your time with electronic and face to face meetings, the more time you will have to work on your dissertation.

7. Take small breaks. Taking breaks while writing your dissertation gives you clarity and it will help your health. Sitting down for hours is not good for your physical health and it can also hinder your writing judgement. I tried to take breaks at least every 45 minutes (15 minute break to make more tea).

9. Have a support system. As you go through your dissertation research and writing you will have moments of self-doubt. Having a support system will give you the strength needed to keep going. For some of us this groups is our family but sometimes it will be your friends, classmates or colleagues. In any case, you get the point! Don’t think you can do it alone. It is okay to have a group of people that will cheer you in the difficult moments. They will likely be the ones that you will include in your acknowledgments.

Good luck!

Literature Review Table Literature Review Table