Gavan Watson, PhD

A Little Shorty
Creative Commons License photo credit: clydeorama

I achieved a personal milestone yesterday with the successful defense of my PhD dissertation (What is the link to picture above? I “scored” a personal “goal” yesterday). Even more exciting than the “Congratulations” from the chair as I re-entered the room was the word that my work required no revisions and it was being submitted for consideration of a thesis prize. Unexpected (the no revisions and thesis prize part, not the successful defense) and pretty freakin’ awesome.

I’m still processing the fact that I’ve reached the termination of a terminal degree and that, largely, I’m done. I think it will take a day or two for me to fully process that fact.

I was especially lucky, however, for all the support I received yesterday and along the way. That Heather was able to watch the event was especially great—not only is she my love, but we’ve been graduate student co-workers for the length of my PhD. Having her share the culminating moment was great. Also observing the defense were my Dad and PhD friends. My father has been an unabashed champion of getting the PhD done, especially during the dark moments about mid-way through where it just doesn’t seem like it might be worth it to finish. Nadine and Josh—Nadine a friend from undergrad and a member of my PhD student cohort; Josh a fellow environmental education scholar, conference co-conspirator and the “piano guy”—stayed for the three hour event and their interest and presence was inspiring. The tweets and Facebook messages from friends near and far really helped too!

I also need to thank my examination committee: my external, Dr. Janis Dickinson, travelled to Toronto over American Thanksgiving to attend the exam; my internal-external Dr. Steve Alsop; FES Dean’s representative, Dr. Martin Bunch; Exam chair and committee member Dr. Jennifer Foster; and my other committee members, Dr. Ray Rogers and Dr. Alice Hovorka. The questions in the defense were thought-provoking, fair and challenging; I look forward to engaging with these in future work.

Finally, I have to recognize the support, friendship, critical thinking and mentorship of my supervisor Dr. Leesa Fawcett. We’ve been working together since I arrived on-campus at York in the fall of 2002 to start my Masters in Environmental Studies and I feel like we share my success yesterday.

OK, as I tweeted yesterday, I’m off to add “, PhD” to everything I own.