Transformed by the doctoral dissertation

The doctoral dissertation process will transform you.

Transformed by the doctoral dissertation process
Dr. Laura Hurtienne

Transformed by the doctoral dissertation

In her book, The Dissertation Journey, Carol Roberts compares the work of a doctoral degree to climbing a mountain. Although I’ve only climbed to the top of the Rocky Mountains in a car, while clinging to the center console, it provided ample experience in which to agree with the analogy. The triumph of knowing you’ve done something not many people have accomplished, along with overcoming the challenges encountered along the way, transforms one’s view on life, problems, and people. Yet, if I learned anything from earning my doctorate it was that I didn’t know much of anything. (I still don’t, for that matter).

For some people, this epiphany could be intimidating, yet I found it refreshing. As a lifelong learner, I welcomed the opportunity to continuously consider new points of view. I also found the chance to research and contemplate concepts exciting. Ultimately, I knew this would push me to grow in thought and spirit. In his book Think Again, author Adam Grant suggests, “Our convictions can lock us in prisons of our own making,” so why shouldn’t we consider our wrongness and invite new ideas in?

Be transformed

Romans 12:2a advises, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (NIV).” The doctoral journey does just that, transforms and renews the mind. Earning my doctorate brought me from feeling insecure about not knowing “correct” answers to being confident in my lack of knowledge. The confidence I gained came with a newfound freedom to ask questions, seek out alternative thoughts, and consider a variety of answers to problems. To not have the answers, but be willing to look for them, took away the burden of feeling I needed to be forever prepared with correct responses.

One cannot possibly discuss the concept of transformation without relying on the timeless example of a butterfly. Consider the comparison of being stagnant in life to the likeness of being trapped in a cocoon. A caterpillar works to free itself from its confines in order to spread its wings and change perspectives. Why stay confined by our convictions when given the opportunity to fly? Break free from the cocoon. Climb that mountain. Be transformed.


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