Dr. Marvette Lacy Ph.D., (she/her) is the founder and CEO of Qual Scholars where she helps higher education folks finish their dissertations and start a profitable consulting business.
In this week’s episode Marvette shares with you why you don’t need a PhD for your dream job, whether it be consulting or speaking.
Hey, you can finish your dissertation and start a profitable consulting business. I’m Dr. Marvette Lacy, and I’m here to show you exactly how to do that. Welcome to the Office Hours with Dr. Lacy podcast, where we talk about all things healing from your higher ed trauma. So you could become doctor and live happy, free and pay. Now let’s get to this week’s episode.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to a new week. Y’all let’s just say this episode is going to be a good one. So yesterday, Tuesday, October 5th, was it Tuesday or Monday at some point during this week, if you’re listening in real time, we posted on Instagram this this post that said, did it hurt when you realize you don’t need a PhD for your dream job and y’all loved it, maybe not love it. Maybe that’s not the word, but you were definitely activated Shall we say by the post? And I wanted to take some time to expand on what we meant and what we intended with this post. Of course, it was meant to like, you know, a little razzle get a little reaction, right? But there’s a deeper message that I want to talk about today. So there are a lot of students who come inside of Qual Scholars who have no motivation or want to live the publisher perish life.
Like they don’t, they don’t want to be a tenure track faculty, but they have been taught and we have all been taught and socialized within higher ed to think that the only way to academic fame is like, you know, like the speaking, the consulting, the writing books, the only way to do that, that thing is if you are a tenure track professor, like if you are someone whose life is all about publishing or researching. But here’s the thing though, the speaking, the consulting, the writing, the publishing, you can do all of that without earning a doctorate degree. Let me say that again. You can do all of that without a terminal degree, because there are so many people out in the streets doing those very things and are highly respected, highly revered without a terminal degree or any degrees for that matter. All you have to do is just go take a look around Twitter.
The main question for you to consider is who do you want to most impact with your work when you are thinking about, you know, research projects or publishing anything who are the core group of people that you want to impact most with your work, right? And the key word here is most because the urge will be that you will want to talk to everyone and work with anyone because you think that, you know, the more people that you can like attract or work with the better your odds are of being successful. But what I want you to know is that that is the quickest way to no or very little impact or money or anything of that nature right. Meaning if you’re so focused on building this huge audience of people who know you and who read your work, if you think that’s the only way to get speaking gigs or consulting contracts or publishing anything, it is the quickest way for you to just work your self into circles. And nobody understands, right?
Who is your core audience?:
The best thing that you can do is identify the core group of people and talk specifically and directly to them, right? If you give people something to grasp onto, then you open yourself up to wider audiences and more opportunities. I know it sounds backwards. I promise you though. It is true. So I’m going to volunteer as tribute, and I’m going to use my experience as an example, like I’m going to walk you through my dissertation, to how it has led to me now, multiple six figure business, getting invited to speak, still publishing publishing in journals, publishing on my own. I’m also getting ready to work on a book that I want to self publish next year. There are more ways than one to do a thing. And so this episode is for those of you who are like, yes, I do want to do these things, but you feel like the only way you get to go live out, your dreams is to finish this degree is to have the letters is to have the title. And I want to show you that that’s not true. Okay. So a major part of my research agenda is studying the identity development of black women. How do black women answered the question Who am I? Essentially specifically like my dissertation centered black women enrolled in graduate programs, mostly doctorate programs and how they use pop culture to create self definitions, like meaning how does, if I’m watching Naomi Osaka win a grand slam? How might me watching her do that influence how I see myself and influence how I might think what is possible for me, all things that go under identity development.
And, and so in my dissertation work, my intention was about talking directly to those black women in graduate programs. And if we get even more detailed and drill down Black women in graduate programs who are also a first-generation college students who also come from low income backgrounds, like if we’re going to get really narrow, that is who I was talking to, mostly in my research and that’s going to be important for when I get to what I’m going to get to later, right? So if my intention was to speak directly to them, and so therefore since I wanted to speak directly to them, I wrote my dissertation, especially chapter four and five for them. Note when I said, I wrote it for them. I’m not writing it for my committee or my program. Yes. I follow the protocol and like the program manual. And I made sure I hit the, the requirements for the program, but my intentions and my language and my word choice, my recommendations were all for low income, first generation Black graduate women who were thinking about themselves and how they want to define themselves and what they want for their future.
Dr. Lacy’s Chapter 5:
So I’m going to give you like an example. I want to read for you the first pages of chapter five, because I think it would be helpful for you to get a sense of what I’m saying as an example. Right? So I do start off the chapter by saying, Hey, y’all I know you’re expecting like the typical chapter five, but I’m going to start this off talking to the people that I did this for. I made that very clear and explicit in chapter five, because to remind you, if you hadn’t listened to last week episode, first of all, like, what are you doing? Go listen. But in that episode, right? I talked about how you need to write things, how you feel it. And this was an example of me writing it, how I felt it, right? So here we go. I wanted to center the experiences of black women without censoring whiteness, and the way that many research projects compare our experiences to those of white women.
I wanted to explore the parts we do not often discuss or have an opportunity to explore. We have been socialized within systemic oppressive structures that have, and continue to impact our lives. I wanted to conduct this project in a way that honored your stories without flattening the experiences of black women. As a whole, I wanted to provide a peek into the world of Black women’s identity development for the benefit and knowledge of other Black women. We live our lives and have so few opportunities to untangle our experiences and knowing through supportive dialogue with other Black women who are doing the same, that we were meant to be an opportunity for Black women, to see their insides reflected by those who look like their outsides. This letter is my homage to you and your truth.
For those of you who may not understand respectfully, this letter was not meant for you. Don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along, just be glad you got the whole wide world. This us, this shit is from us. Some shit can’t touch, which is from Solange and her album. He he’s very dreaming, but he’s not the son you are, which if you’re a Grey’s anatomy fan, you know who said that? Growing up, we have seen the women in our lives have a, have to be strong self-sacrificing for those she loved, especially the men in her life, a higher standard of responsibility exists for us. That requires us to be superhuman. That requires us to appear perfect. Our mothers, grandmothers, and other mothers raised us to be the same, which was in contrast to our brothers and fathers. Our role is to act and sacrifice for the good of the family mostly the men. As young girls, we are taught to not expect anything or depend on a man whilst simultaneously being taught that everything we do learn and earn is for the benefit of a man.
As a mother, you love your son by coddling him. You teach your daughter about caring for a family, a house and sacrificing, you communicate to your son, that a woman would be there to take care of his needs. As a sister, you know, you have to work harder than your brother academically and financially. As a wife, you are expected to work, raise kids, cook and clean. We raised, we are raised to be workhorses and it continues in our schooling. As doctoral students, we are expected to be quiet, work twice as hard, and not boast about our accomplishments. We sacrifice and are the backbone of our programs only to be overlooked and ignored for awards, accolades, and praise. As Black women and women in general, society tells us our worth. Our very existence is connected to cisgender heterosexual able-bodied men. Our life is about doing the right things so that we can be chosen.
A woman’s accolades and accomplishments would never legitimize her in the way that marriage and children can. A woman who just gets to be, it’s not something to be celebrated or even discussed. Our reproductive organs are not to be discussed. Even saying words, such as sexuality and vagina feels wrong to us because of our socialization as women, the pressure of being married and bearing children is real. However, these things do not determine your worth, having it all together does not determine your worth. Your body is yours, and you are allowed to give it to whomever you choose. Sex and sexuality have always been in the background of our lives, talking and thinking about sex is unholy. Saving ourselves for marriage is more important. We learn of sex from the world from someone telling us not to do it. And from finding pornography with our friends, we are excited to explore sex. Although it comes with a side of guilt from dishonoring our relationships with God.
Now’s the time that we began to question our understandings of religion, spirituality in the world. As we grow into Black women, we have the freedom to define our own meanings of sexuality. This defining process produces tension with our faith and traditions, and it becomes more and more challenging and necessary to reconcile. The two. We look to women depicted on television as a way to figure out what it meant to be and look like a cool and sweet Black woman. As a child messages told us who we should be and how we should act, but we did not quite fit those standards. Instead, we looked for women who match more of how we viewed ourselves, because it felt more affirming. These women may not have behaved the way or thought the way we did, but they looked like us today. We fight to personally define our Black womanhood. This process is difficult because no model exists for this. Our mothers cannot not fully relate to the life we live now. So we gravitate towards characters on television that can. These women remind us of our friends, our sisters and us, the Mary Janes, and Olivia’s seem to have accomplished something different, something higher that we are currently working towards.
It’s not just that you take what we create is that it always gets lost in translation. Our bodies hold the magic, the sacrifices and the trauma of the past and present. As slaves we were used to, we were used to breed more property while matching the men and skill in productivity. Today. We are still expected to do the same, except we are not harvesting cotton. We are now harvesting degrees. I love that. That’s still my favorite line. We are the silent ones behind the scenes. We are the ones on committees, running research projects, teaching courses volunteering our time and emotion to our communities while stile completing our class assignments and own research projects. We do so without praise or mention from the ivory tower. Oh yes. The academic celebrate our numbers, but it is hidden behind convoluted rhetoric that erases our efforts. Colleges and universities give extra attention and funding for Black men because there are a few of them. What about black women who are here who have been here?
What about the Black women who continue to make the academic programs look good as they capture our beauty in their marketing and promotional materials. Who continues to earn degrees without assistance, support or validation. Ivory tower you give the gifts of trauma and pain instead of support and assistance. And we keep rising. We keep spreading our magic. You tell us that we are not good enough that our acceptance into your program was some sort of anomaly. As a result, we have, we have to work harder to be the butt of your oppressive jokes and remarks. I acknowledge that this is not about one particular group of individuals. It is about the institution of higher education. This shit was not built for Black women. We are not asking for handouts and.or Special attention, because we have been doing great without it.
That excellence comes with its price though. And we continue to bear that price alone. We ask that you acknowledge us and that you hear us we are asking to stop being lost in translation, because you were my sister, my strength and my pride. Sister scholars being with you gave me what I needed. Even when I did not want to or think I needed your support and community. You all, you all have taught me that it’s okay to show up, support your sista and sit in her pain with her. Knowing that you will also have to sit in your own pain and discomfort. And that is what healing looks like being vulnerable. Opening it up to those who have earned the privilege to sit with you is how we continue to heal each other and ourselves. You have taught me that we can be in spirit of love and sisterhood with one another. And at the same time recognized that socialization and spirit of unhealthy competition based on color, inherent acceptance from men also exist in that space. No one will ever outmatch outmatch, your magic and your hustle. Remember, you are not invincible. You are important. You do deserve love. It is okay not to be superwoman. It is okay to place your self first. Self care is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation. And that is an act of political warfare (Lorde, 1998, page 131), preserving yourself is not about additional items to your ever-growing to do lists. It is about managing and building your emotional energy. Our constant labor and sacrifice takes an emotional, physical, and spiritual toil. That hustle while admirable is ultimately causing our deaths, it is okay to recharge your mind and your heart, whether it’s God, sex or Scandal, the television show, I am here as a fellow sister and scholar, to be here to support, validate, and confide in you. And I am extremely, I’m eternally grateful to sharing your stories to end my doctoral experience with women who will change the world.
Write it how you feel it:
Let’s just take a moment. Okay. Cause that’s how I started chapter five, but that is an example of what I mean of, I was writing it, how I felt it, right? A lot of people can look at that and say that wasn’t academic. That wasn’t fancy enough, but it didn’t matter because I was writing for me. I was writing for my participants because I was also a participant as I used sister circle methodology, but that’s a whole different podcast episode, but I wanted to read that entire thing. Cause that’s not the entire chapter, but I wanted to read that entire introduction to demonstrate. I didn’t give two fucks about who was reading it and who was going to be offended. It was more about I’m honoring the people and all of those things that I was saying, it’s not every Black woman’s experience that goes without saying that matched the findings, like the data. And so when I say I was speaking directly to them, I mean, I was using things that we, that came up in data collection that came up in the sister circles. So they knew exactly what I was referring to. Even if no one else outside of them understood what I was referring to.
So hopefully that makes sense. I give this example to say, like at that point I was really done with higher ed. I was like, I don’t want to be nobody’s faculty. I don’t really care. And it’s because not because I was like F it, it won’t work. It was because I realized that I didn’t need to be anybody’s faculty in order to do the work and have the impact that I wanted to have. I was already working with Black women. I was already starting a business. And I was seeing down the road into the future that I was going to have speaking engagements. And I was going to continue to publish about stuff that I really cared about. And in this, it’s really fun for me to read this now, because my message has been consistent throughout the years, the past four years of doing business, it echoes exactly what I wrote in my dissertation and the things that I have coming up in business speaks directly to that. So I am a living example of like, you can do this and guess what? Like not only did my committee love it, but I was also a finalist for the ASHE dissertation of the year award, which is in higher Ed, the dissertation award. Right. And I didn’t write or apply for this award because I really wanted it to, my chair wanted me to, so I just did it and I didn’t put that much energy into it, which is ultimately why I didn’t win because the me and the final person were like neck to neck.
And it came down to who submitted in terms of like quality of application its fine. I didn’t care. But my point is to say that when I decided to focus on Black women, Women of Color and speak directly to them, that is, that is what I focused on. That’s where the impact was. Right. And it doesn’t mean that people outside of that category of women of color didn’t benefit from the work because they did. Cause every time I talk about this work, people are like, oh, I feel seen because like my homie, Dr. Stewart says like, when we center those on the margins, everybody benefits, everybody gets seen, right? My willingness and courage to speak directly to women of color and write it, how I feel it enabled me to help others through coaching in business and writing, like, for example, because I had the experience of starting off my chapter five, that way and speaking directly to my people.
Dr. Breeden Shoutout:
I was better prepared to help someone like our own. Dr. Roshaunda Breeden just been on a podcast. She has an episode. She’s our director of Qual Scholars. And when she was getting ready to submit her proposal, right, you should go listen to that episode is so good. But when she was getting ready, I was like, this proposal is great. It’s going to pass, but it’s not you. It doesn’t fully encompass like the essence of who you are and the way that you would speak directly to the people you want to speak to. And so I was able to like support her through that and encourage her to say it, how she felt it throughout the dissertation. And let me tell you, cause I want to take a moment to stunt on her behalf for a minute. Cause she won’t do it, y’all. So after you hear this list and before you just go tell her, she did that. And she keeps doing that. But let me tell you, because she also practiced the courage of writing it how she felt it, her dissertation was done in record time. She passed her final defense with no edits and like flying colors. And everybody was in tears and everybody could not stop saying how beautiful the work was. Multiple job offers. My friend was like, oh yeah, this person offered me this and. They are going to give me what I want. Right? Her dissertation is inspiring a whole community play production. Like people in a couple of weeks are going to be able to see her work realized on stage. And she is the 2021 AHSE Dissertation of the year, recipient the recipient. This is just the beginning yall. She’s just getting started. That’s not even scratching the surface of all the amazing things that came out of this work all because you have the courage to write directly to her people, to the people she wanted to center and write it her way.
Worry about the current step:
:And because she was clear her goal and who she wanted to impact writing chapters four and five became a work of flow and inspiration. And I just want to say that the same thing is available to you, but here’s, what’s required in order for you to have the same thing. It’s like, you have like you, like you’re currently so focused on being at step 10 and planning for steps 11 and 20, that you don’t even realize that you’re just hanging out at step five. And I want to encourage you. And like, how about you get focused on going from step five to step six, instead of worrying about step 11 or 12. How about we do what we’re, where we’re at? Like right now, the other other thing I want you to take some time to consider is that you’re probably already doing the things that you thought this dissertation would enable you to do, or this doctorate degree would enable you to do right?
You’re probably already speaking, right? It’s it’s probably at conferences, right? It’s probably a different workshops or programs on campus. You’re probably already doing consulting, right? It might be for a little program here, a little $200 contract over there. And you’re probably as a student and somebody in a doctoral program, you’re writing, you’re publishing now. Yes, it might be with other people or it might be what your chair and , you’re still doing it. And I want this to demonstrate to you that you do not need this degree or this dissertation to prove that you can do exactly what you are doing right now. And even if you’re not doing those things, it’s available to you right now. And the only thing holding you back is fear because if nothing like if This world, the pandemic has taught us nothing. We are in the great resignation. Isn’t that what the people calling it, the great resignation that everybody’s leaving their job and starting their own business. Because the power of social media allows you to do the shit you want to do right now. The people that you want to work with, they don’t give two shits about your degree or your title. You are making up that story. They care that you know how to help them.
The only people who really care about your title and your letters are other miserable, like academics, who just want to talk shit anyway. And I say, it is not so that like you can walk away from your program, which I mean, side note is an option for you. You don’t have to finish this. It doesn’t matter that you’ve made it this far. You always have the option to walk away. I just wanted to say that that was for somebody that’s going, They needed that message today. But I say this to say, like, to allow yourself to have the courage, to see this dissertation for what it truly is. The dissertation is your final assignment for your program. It is not meant to be your best work. It is not meant to be earth shattering. It is It is meant to demonstrate that you know how to design and implement a research project on your own.
Treat chapters four and five as class papers, like all other papers and assignments. Put words on the page, speak directly to your people. Getting and use feedback. Let it be simple and get it done like last week the biggest thing holding you back from finishing is believing the toxic bullshit that other miserable unhealed people told you about you not being a good writer, being too much of an advocate, not being sophisticated or academic enough. It’s all a projection from them. And it’s all bullshit. You don’t have to believe that you don’t have to accept it in episode 108. I break down exactly what you need to do in order to write chapters four and five. I walk you through how to outline the chapters and what to include in each chapter, how long each chapter should be.
Join Defend Your Dissertation:
And we are also releasing a new program that I’ll tell you more about next week called defend your dissertation that will further provide support for you and finishing this dissertation strong. I’m talking in four months or less, I’m talking in four months or less going from data collection to successfully defending a dissertation in Qual Scholars. We make doctors not just to have beautifully written dissertations, but owning your identity and experience and expertise as a doctor to know you are good to know, you are worthy to know that are whole with or without the letters and the title. I want you to finish. That’s why I’m going so hard on this episode. I want you to finish, but I want you to finish on your terms. I want you to know that there are examples out there. There are people out there who do research that is in alignment with who they are and their values.
And who do good work and still get everything they want to do. I just don’t want you to stop yourself from showing up who you are and going after what you want, because you think you need a title and some letters because you don’t. I am an example of what is possible. Dr. Breeden is an example of what is possible. Our community of scholars are examples of what is possible. We want you to be the next example that this is possible. So that’s going to do it for this week tune in next week. So I can tell you all about how you can make this possible for yourself and finish this dissertation. I will talk to you all next week. Bye for now.
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