Academia, Education, Higher Education, life, scholarship, Teaching

When a Scholar Dies

Several weeks ago I was lurking around Twitter and came across tweets that mentioned a scholar. Someone had created a hashtag and asked others to share their memories related to this scholar (and to include the hashtag in the tweets). I was curious to know who this person was and why people in Twitter were sharing these stories. I quickly learned that the name of the scholar was Dr. Erik Olin Wright. After following a few twitter threads, I found out that he was very ill and the tweets from others were a way to honor what he had done as a scholar, advisor, and as a person. In the mist of the different Twitter posts, I came across a link to his online journal (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/erikolinwright/journal). In it, Dr. Wright was documenting his illness  and life after his cancer diagnosis. The very first post that I read, in his journal, was titled “Strange State of Existence” posted on Jan 5th in which he discussed having three weeks to live. This is a portion of Dr. Wright’s post on Jan 5th:

Screenshot 2019-02-02 21.44.59After reading his initial post, I continued to silently follow his journey. Every couple of days, I would click on the link and read his new entries. One of the most emotional and wonderful parts of the journal were the comments left by hundred of individuals who had been touched by Dr. Wright in one way or another. This is just one of hundreds of comments shared in his journal:

Screenshot 2019-02-02 21.53.37

If you did not clicked on the link to the online journal, I am sad to share that Dr. Wright passed away on Jan. 23. Reading his journal and the comments made by others has made me reflect tremendously.

  • The reality that we have a limited time in this planet.
  • The reality that as scholars the impact of our work goes far beyond metrics that are often used to rank, classify us, or give us “status.”
  • The beauty of Dr. Wright’s thoughts and humanness in his journal, as well as, the comments by others reminded me that there are still individuals who are genuine, sincere, and candid.

I hope that others find his online journal and continue to read it.

 

Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Professional Development, Self-care

Failure

I really enjoy celebrating accomplishments but I also like normalizing failure. We do not always achieve what we want or it make take several tries before we accomplish a goal. If we are mentally prepared to understand that failure is a possibility, we are more likely to build strength to pick up the pieces and try again. So here are some things that I have failed at in the past, yet they did not stop me from continuing to pursue what I wanted to accomplish in the long run.

When I graduated high school, I decided to study computer systems engineering. That did not go too well! At that time (and still today), I was a social butterfly. College was a great place to hangout with my friends. Becoming an engineer was not really a priority. After the three semesters studying engineering and failing many courses, I decided that it was best to throw in the towel. I took a year off from college level courses to work and save to pay for my education. I eventually when back to college and started with an associates degree in Computer Programming which I completed with honors. I went on to successfully complete an undergraduate, master, and doctoral degree.

Another moment of failure in my life was when I applied to doctoral degrees. You see, I was determined to move back to Canada and in particular to Montreal. I had fallen in love with the educational technology program at Concordia University. After spending 5 full years studying in Emporia (Kansas), I was ready to complete my application, get accepted, and start a new chapter of my life as a doctoral student at Concordia University. That did not happened! I applied to three universities: Concordia University, Boston University, and Old Dominion University. A few days after doing my doctoral interview (a phone interview with all faculty members of the educational technology program), I received a letter from Concordia University letting me know that I was not accepted. I cried so much!

However, I was accepted to Boston University (with a graduate assistantship but no tuition reimbursement) and to Old Dominion University (with a graduate assistantship with full tuition reimbursement). Eventually, I decided to attend Old Dominion University and that let to so many wonderful opportunities that have shaped my personal life and career. I decided that although I was not at my number one choice, I was still going to earn a doctoral degree and make the most out of it!

Of course, there are many instances of failure in every day life: the article that gets rejected, the class activity that does not go as planned, the award that I do not get, etc.

Why am I sharing this? 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.

Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Teaching

Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies #academicmamas

Had my yearly Pap Smear today and it served as a reminder of post that has been in draft folder for too long [it is also Spring Break so I get to catch up on a few things that I normally tend to put of for later]. Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies.

We often think that pregnancy is this magical time in a women’s life in which they can eat whatever they want, glow, and crochet something for their bundle of joy. Well, at least, that is what I thought pregnancy was until I experienced it.

The reality is that for me pregnancy was the worry of knowing how my baby was developing, heartburn, and sleepless nights. But I was fine with that because “it is all just part of the process.” It was until I was 22 weeks pregnant that things got “complicated.”

During a routine visit to the doctor (the first week of classes of that term) the ultrasound technician noticed that I was experiencing an “incompetent cervix.” Everything went from calm to faces of worry and the doctor rushing into the ultrasound room. I was asked to go the emergency room in the hospital and told that they were extremely worry that I would deliver early.

I was so confused by everything that was happening but without thinking about it, my husband and I drove to the hospital and expressed what the gynecologist had just explained. I was immediately checked into the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor in the emergency room explained what an “incompetent cervix” meant. Basically means that I have a “weak” cervix tissue.” What followed was just a mess:

  1. Taught class for one week that semester [Fall 2015]
  2. Then rushed back to the emergency room (and FMLA for the remainder of the term)
  3. Was told by the doctor to consider having an abortion (early delivery would mean having a baby that would not survive or would have severe brain damage)
  4.  Was told by another doctor to consider having a cerclage procedure done to prologue the pregnancy as long as possible (although he clarified the success rate for a 50/50 chance)
  5. Decided to do the cerclage and wait to see what happened.
  6. Orders of bed rest until delivery date
  7. Three long months of at home bed rest

Why did I continued my complicated pregnancy? Because I honestly could not terminate my pregnancy after watching my healthy baby boy in an ultrasound.

What is was like to do three months of bed rest? For me, it was torture. I honestly channel my energy into doing things that I enjoyed (writing, reading, researching, or anything I could do from bed/couch).

This is is really a summarized version of everything that happened. All the emotions that I experienced during those months, would be really difficult to capture in a post. I was very private about all of this, when it happened, because if things did not work out in a positive way, I did not want to mourn my loss publicly. It would have been too difficult. However, I did have many reach out to me privately and I would share what I was going through (I guess my lack of FB and Twitter post was noticed). I had many friends and family check in with me regularly (almost daily). Thank You. I also a had a dear friend that lives in the area have lunch with weekly through the three months of bed rest (thank you JoAnne Scott).

I am not writing this post because I want a pity party. I am writing and sharing it with you because pregnancies don’t always go as planned, which is even more reason to have have adequate institutional policies for pregnant women and partners. I would have never predicted my health issue (not even in my wildest dreams). Since this happened to me I’ve known at least two other women who had similar experiences, including another faculty member at my institution.

I also want to add that my story had a complicated but happy ending but not all stories end the same way. I want to share with the emotional story written by Ilde Torres Walter in her blog (it is a journey of love): http://www.journeytoliam.com/2017/01/09/hello-world/  [you should make time to read her five blog posts].

Academia, AECT, Conference, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Job, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Seminar, Teaching, Travel, Writing

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Discussants:
Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

Academia, Higher Education

My Personal Learning Network #EME605

Last night in our last Adobe Connect session, a team of students was presenting a webinar. One of the topic covered in the presentation was Personal Learning Networks (PLN). The team had a very nice activity in which the audience was asked to develop their own Personal Learning Network using a concept mapping tool (https://www.text2mindmap.com/ — available online free). As the instructor, I always like to participate in the activities that the presenters have for their audience so I created a concept map of my PLN. I realized after I created it that I learn, on a dialy basis, from so many different groups of people including: colleagues (that I know personally and some that I just know via social media), students, family, published content (paper and online), informal conversations, informal published content (online) and many other sources. Below is an image of my PLN:

Romero-Hall PLN