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PhDiversary

Can you believe that it was a decade ago that my PhD was bestowed upon me? A *decade*!!

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I just cannot believe it has been 3,653 days since I walked across the convocation stage in my fancy shoes, my garish pink robe, and my puffy hat and officially became Dr. Beth. A lot has happened in those 10 years. I went from being an unemployed couch surfer with $72K of student debt to a job having, home-owning, cat-owning, student debt-free published author and absent-minded professor(ish) who added five more letters after my name beyond the PhD.

Also, would you believe that in all that time I’ve only once been called “not a real doctor”1 and that was actually just last week? True story.

  1. Not counting times someone said it in jest. []

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MBA = Most Bad Ass

Last Wednesday, I attended my fourth – and final – university convocation as a graduate1, receiving my hard earned MBA2. It’s hard to believe that just 28 months ago3, me and 50 other brave souls embarked on the intense and life changing journey that is the part-time MBA program at UBC. Taking an program like this – super intense in both the amount and type of work – while also holding down full-time jobs4 takes a special5 kind of person. I knew I was going to learn a lot in this program, as I had no background in business whatsoever, but when I look back on it, I’m still stunned by how much I learned. Entire fields that I knew nothing about – accounting, finance, economics, marketing, just to name a few – are now not only comprehensible to me, but also fascinating. This program has provided not just content, but also new skills that I apply every day in my work and personal life and it has expanded my worldview.

And I feel very privileged to have traveled these past 28 months with the most fantastic group of people. I met people from all sorts of different sectors and backgrounds and learned as much from them as I did from my professors and textbooks. We worked hard together through countless classes and group meetings and Skype meetings and lunch meetings, through study groups and running simulated businesses and writing business plans and doing Friday case nights and the seemingly endless hours of capstone weekend. There were papers and exams and presentations and celebrations. There was a lot of laughter and some tears and some rants and all the things that life-long friendships are made of.


The day of graduation, though they were calling for rain, actually turned out to be sunny and beautiful! One of the graduates from the full-time MBA cohort with whom I had a class6 and next to whom I sat at grad (due to us having surnames that are alphabetically similar) noted that this was because he’d worked his skills from the MBA – Master of the Black Arts. The convocation ceremony was nice, full of all the pomp and circumstance that a university convocation entails – the speeches were great and since I knew all of the part-time MBAs and a bunch of the full-timers (as I’d taken a couple of classes from the full-time program and some of them took some of our part-time classes) the seemingly endless parade of graduates crossing the stage was more interesting to me than my previous graduations, where I’d known far fewer of the people graduating.

This is the sea of graduates as seen from the balcony of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, where convocation is held:

MBA Graduation 2014 - A Sea of Graduates

You can spot me in the fifth row by the fact that I’m in a pink robe instead of the black MBA robe – one of the perks of having the PhD7.

In other news, I totally underestimated how long I’d be on stage when I said 7.4 seconds – it actually turns out that I was on stage for nearly 20 whole seconds! Here’s the video to prove it:

Here is 4/5ths of D2NA, my group from school. One of our big project in the Core part of our program was to write a business plan and our company was D2NA, and our product was the Double Device (you may recall our mascot, Marty The Moose.)). From left to right we have Bronwyn, me, the guy who holds the ceremonial university mace8 (not part of our group), Emily, and Tyler. Missing from the photo is Edmond, who wasn’t at the ceremony.

D2NA at MBA Grad!

And here’s a photo of me with Fran, the most helpful person EVER! When I first started my MBA, UBC had some difficulty in figuring out how to process my scholarship, as it’s a rare type of scholarship9 and they didn’t appear to have ever had a student with one of these before, so no one in the finance area could figure out how to deal with it. But Fran came to my rescue and after about a billion emails with Finance, she was able to get it sorted out for me so that I could get my scholarship money and thus be able to pay my tuition fees. She came up to me after the ceremony and introduced herself because, despite the aforementioned billion emails, we’d never actually met in person. Needless to say, I gave her the biggest hug!

MBA Graduation 2014

Because I’m spoiled, my mom and my Aunt Eileen came out from Toronto for my big day:

My mom, me and Aunt Eileen

They were here for the whole week and we had many adventures, which will have to be the subject of another blog posting as this one is already getting way long!

Speaking of spoiled, I was spoiled by my mom and aunt, who not only came all this way for my grad, but also showered me with gifts, including the beautiful shoes I wore to grad10 and the beautiful flowers that you see me holding11

And as if I weren’t spoiled enough, my Aunty Gwen sent me this MBA grad present – a gorgeous blanket that she crocheted herself, made specifically to go with my beloved purple chair:

Handmade afghan - an MBA grad present from my Aunty GwenThe picture does not do it justice – it’s an exquisite stitch that she used an the colours in it as so beautiful and it totally completes the chair!

All in all, it was a lovely day and I am very pleased that I can now officially put the “MBA” behind my name. For the record, I am now legally entitled to write my name thusly:

Beth Snow, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD, MBA, CE

So that’s 18 letters after my name – and only 8 letters in my name! Even if you were to use my full legal name “Mary Elizabeth Snow” instead of just “Beth”, that’s only 17 letters in my name – still one fewer than all the ones I’ve earned the right to be put after my name!


Image Credit: Specially thanks to my Aunt Eileen and my friend and classmate, Emily Graham, for the photos and video!

Footnotes:

  1. If I get any more university degrees, they will have to be of the Honorary Doctorate variety, as I have no plans to actually do work for another degree. Though apparently you have to do something honourable in order to be granted an Hon Doc, so I guess I’ll have to figure out something honourable to do now. []
  2. A.k.a., graduating from grade 25 []
  3. And three years ago I don’t think I’d even started studying for the GMAT yet! []
  4. Not to mention having families, social lives, etc. By my count there were 11 babies born or conceived during the 28 months of our program, along with 6 weddings. []
  5. Translation: Crazy. []
  6. Healthcare Management. []
  7. You can spot the other PhD from my class – Keith – in the bottom left of that photo. []
  8. I have no idea why the university has a ceremonial mace. []
  9. Mostly because you can only get it if you hold a health sciences-based PhD and are doing an MBA, and there aren’t many people who have done a PhD that want to go back to school! []
  10. See photo above. []
  11. The flowers, sadly, have had to live on my balcony as the cats seem to think they look most delicious and I have no idea if these particular flowers are poisonous to cats, so to be on the safe side, I’m keeping them outside. []

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Happy PhDiversary To Me!

As detailed in a previous posting, Nov 16 marks the anniversary of the day I received my PhD, according to my transcript. The convocation ceremony for my PhD was Nov 22, 2006 and my current theory1 is that Nov 16 marks the day that Senate voted to approve candidates for convocation – but I based that entirely on speculation.

At any rate, I am commemorating this, my 7th PhDiversary, in the traditional fashion, by posting this picture of a Tumbeast in a puffy PhD hat:

PhD Tumblbeast

And speaking of the puffy hat, it will soon be making its reappearance in my life as I have a grad photo session booked for Nov 252 and, as detailed in a previous posting, I will be yet again donning the pink robe and puffy hat of a UBC PhDer for that photo, as well as for the convocation ceremony next spring. Long live the puffy hat!

  1. Translation: I’m too lazy to actually investigate this. []
  2. I’m actually dreading this a bit, as I don’t really want to see how much older and fatter I’m going to look in these photos compared to the ones that were taken in the same robe and hat 7 years ago! []

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Happy 5th PhDiversary To Me!

So I was looking at my transcript the other day, as I was working on an application for something1 and noticed that it said that my PhDizzle was granted on November 16, 2006. The astute among you will note that that would be exactly five years ago today! Zounds! Five years ago is a very, very long time. It hardly seems possible that I have been insisting on people calling me “Dr.” for the last half a decade! It still makes me giggle when someone refers to me as “Dr. Beth” – is that possible after five long years? Well, apparently it is, because here I am giggling after typing it.

However, when I went to write this blog posting, I noticed that all the photos of my convocation ceremony, such as this one:

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are marked as having been taken on November 22, not November 16. “That’s odd,” I thought, “Must have had the wrong date on my camera.” But then I looked at my old blog posting – my blog, of course, being the source of absolute truth – and it confirmed that November 22 was my convocation. And then I had a crisis on my hands: What day do I celebrate as my PhDiversary? And from where did this November 16 date, which, as far as I can tell, bears no relationship to anything, come?

I had a quick email exchange with Dr. Dan and we came to the following conclusion: I should celebrate both dates, plus the date of my PhD defence! Which makes my important nerdy dates thus:

  • August 8 – My Defenciversary
  • November 162- PhDiversary
  • November 22 – Convocativersary

And thus, in celebration of my 5th PhDiversary today, I present you with this Tumblebeast in a UBC PhD hat:

PhD Tumblbeast

I may also eat some chocolate, which we all know is the appropriate way to celebrate everything.

 

  1. More about that in a later blog posting. []
  2. As I’ve been writing this, the thought occurred to me that it might be that November 16 was the date that the Senate voted to approve the list of candidates for the November 22 convocation. I base this on no evidence whatsoever, but it’s the best guess I’ve got, so I’m sticking to it until someone tells me otherwise []

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Congratulations Dr. Erika!

IMG_0579 Today, my friend Erika defended her PhD!

You may remember Erika from such adventurers as getting published in Science, her 29.758904th birthday, and several 12 Bars of Christmas. Well, now you can add her PhDizzle to that list! I didn’t get to attend the defence because The Man was making me work, but by all accounts her performance was brilliant! Not that I’m surprised – did I mention that she’s  published in Science???

So congratulations, Dr. Erika and welcome to the club!

Note to self: I have *got* to get better photographs with Erika!

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My Dissertation Haiku

Three days ago, Darren pointed out this site to me: Dissertation Haiku. On this site, people write a single haiku that summarizes their PhD dissertation.  Since then, I’ve been trying to write a haiku to summarize my dissertation and failing miserably. As it turns out, I suck at haikus. So I did what any self-respecting scientist would do – I hired my statistician to do it for me1.

And now I give you my Dissertation Haiku, written by Dr. Daniel J. Gillis:

Boozing rat mommies
Make baby rat bones so weak
Poor baby rat bones

If you’d like to read the longer version, my dissertation is here.

Incidentally, at this exact moment, Dr. Dan has also posted his own dissertation haiku. Coordinated simultaneous blog postings. Yes, we truly are that cool.

Update: My dissertation haiku is now published on the Dissertation Haiku site! Go there to read it in all its haikuy glory! Also, if you happen to be one of my friends who also has a dissertation, you should submit your own dissertation haiku there too. Submit, I say!

  1. where by “hire” I mean asked him nicely and gave him no money. Not unlike his day job, except for the asking him nicely part []

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Bunch of Random Stuff

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that each aren’t long enough to make a blog posting on their own, but collectively make up a bunch of random stuff.

  • Some very cool people are getting honourary doctorates at UBC1 this year, including satirist Rick Mercer, author Douglas Coupland, and astronaut Julie Payette. Also getting a UBC HonDoc is the person with the worst French language skills on the planet, John Furlong2.  One name on the list that really caught my eye was Dr. Nora Volkow – she’s the Director of the US National Institute of Drug Addiction3. You can see her in this HBO documentary on addiction, where she does an amazing job explaining the science of addiction. Her work as a neuroscientist has gone a long way to show that addiction involves a pathophysiology of the brain – so addiction isn’t about strength of will or moral character, it’s a disease.
  • Here’s some interesting information about how larger plates are making us fatter.  I’ve read quite a few studies recently on how portion sizes have increased over the years – both at restaurants and at homes.  Further, studies show that bigger portion size actually results in people taking bigger bites of food.
  • I have a date for the Polar Bear Swim on January 1, 2011.  My friend Krista has agreed to join me!  And, as she says, we’ve said it on the intertubes, so now we *have* to do it!
  • For some unknown reason, WordPress has stopped emailing me comments that are made on my blog. I have it set up to do so, as seen here, but I don’t get emails.  So if I’m slower at replying to comments than I used to be, blame WordPress.  I’m innocent.
  • Today, my friend Dr. Jen officially became Dr. Jen.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use the PhD behind your name, or call yourself “Dr.,” until after your convocation4. Even though once you’ve handed the final copy of your thesis into the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you’ve done all you need to do. But until the degree is actually granted on convocation day, you technically don’t have it.  Not like that stops anyone from calling themselves “Dr.” right from the moment the committee at the defence says “I’m pleased to inform you…” though. Congratulations, Dr. Jen!!
  1. I hope to get an HonDoc some day. Because I have a fascination with collecting letters to put behind my name. []
  2. seriously, I have better French than that guys AND I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH []
  3. an aside: I was just perusing Dr. Volkow’s Wikipedia page and apparently she’s the great granddaughter of Trotsky! []
  4. same is technically true of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but since you don’t change your honorific with those degrees, it’s not such a big deal []

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Congratulations, Dr. Bedford!

Today, my friend Jen defended her PhD!  I didn’t get to attend the defence because The Man made me go to work all day, but I heard from people that were in attendance that Jen rocked it!  Not that there was any doubt that she would!

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Here’s a poor quality photo I took of Jen on my iPhone at the Cactus Club, where we went for celebratory drinks tonight.

Congratulations, Dr. Jen!  I hope you are enjoying your new life as one of the club. You deserve it!

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Congratulations Dr. Lauren, Dr. Mike & Dr. Rachel

Girl PhD by dolescum.In that last 7 days, 3 of my friends successfully defended their PhDs!  Coincidentally, I know all three of them through my involvement in science outreach, meaning that not only are they brilliant in their respective fields of study1, but they are also super awesome people who volunteer their time to bring the fun of science to kids!

Congrats Drs. Lauren, Mike & Rachel – you guys rock!

Now I’m off to the beach to celebrate with Dr. Rachel!

1Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics Education.

Image credit: Posted by dolescum on Flickr with Creative Commons-y goodness.   I know that the photo actually doesn’t fit this posting, given that Dr. Mike is not a “girl PhD” but I found the photo doing a Flickr search for something to put with this posting and it was just too funny not to use.