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 weeks episode of Office Hours, Marvette shares her story and her doctoral journey.
Hey friend, the time has come to finish your dissertation, graduate and become doctor. Welcome to office hours with Dr. Lacy where we talk about how to finally master this time management thing so you can stay on top of it without losing your mind. Every Wednesday you can find a new episode wherever you listen to podcasts, make sure you hit the subscribe button to make sure you never miss an episode. I’m Dr. Marvette Lacy, your dissertation writing strategist here to be with you along every step of the way. I would like to thank you for coming to today’s office hours. Let’s get started on today’s episode. Hey, how’s writing going? I know you don’t like the question, but let me tell you, when you join the finish your dissertation program, you will love that question. Clients often report feeling excited and joyful to go into their process even before they even get to the dissertation process, and that’s what I’m inviting you to do. I’m inviting you to come inside the group and join us so that you can get the structure you need and the tools that will help you to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to Marvette lacy.com/apply and sign up for the wait list and you will be the first notified when doors are open. See you soon.
Hello. Welcome back to a new week of the podcast. Y’all know the train is behind me. If you hear it, but you know, Caitlin is such an awesome podcast editor that you might not even hear it. So here we go. This week is all about my journey. So I’m just going to hop in and do a quick intro. You’re going to be listening to a recording from the finish your dissertation live event that happened this past August. And I talk about my journey and I talk about what you need to finish your dissertation. So you will listen to that.
Client Spotlight: Gabby
But I wanted to come on and do a spotlight before we got into the video. So this week’s spotlight goes to Gabby ya’ll Gabby. I feel like if I had an alter ego in a different form, this would be Gabby. Gabby came to me in March. I believe she was referred by another client Bryce and she needed to, um, she wanted the support. She was going into writing her proposal and she needed someone to help. Like, just tell me what to do. If someone could just tell me what to do, I’ll do it, do it. And we’ll be done. Right? That was pretty much her attitude. She was highly motivated. She was like, look, I don’t need all the spiel or whatever. Just where’s the link. Let’s get to work. And she signed up as a one-on-one client. So when you sign up as a one-on-one client, you also get access to the finish your dissertation program, but you also get to meet with me one-on-one privately so Gabby signed up and yes, I’m really good at telling you exactly what to do. But I also know that’s only remember, that’s 10 to 20% of what really needs to happen. Everything goes, it’s the life part, the mind part. So she’s making progress and we meet every week and in her mind, she’ll be like, Oh, we don’t need to meet. I’m still working on what you gave me last time. And I’m like, no, no, because if you haven’t completed the assignment, there’s something else there.
And I’m not coming from a place of shame or like, you know, trying to make her feel bad or anything it’s really getting to the root of what’s causing procrastination. Or why, why might you be really tired or what’s going on at work? Or how did that call go with your dissertation chair? Or what is your partner doing or how are your kids acting? Right. All of that matters to the process. And a lot of times people think, Oh, I’m just going to get this dissertation coach. And we’re just going to talk about the dissertation. If it was just that simple to help you with your, like, just giving you the content or the information for the dissertation. If that If that was all you need it, you would be done already. Let me say that again. If all you needed was a step by step of how to finish your dissertation, you would be done already because there are endless resources that exist on the internet. Your program gave you what to do, even if you don’t like how they did it, or you felt like it wasn’t enough. If all you needed was more information you would be done, but that is not what stopping you from being done. You’re your what’s going on in, in between your ears and life and your reaction to life is what’s happening. And so what I really appreciate about Gabby is getting ahead of that, reaching out, getting a coach and being like I’m good right now, but I know that the potential of this process could take me out and I don’t want to be like other people who are stuck in place.
I want to, I want to finish this. And I love her attitude with that. In our coaching sessions, we have talked about everything from her being, you know, her Keto journey, her transitioning jobs and negotiating, uh, her like decluttering her house, her being on 50 11 committees throughout the community. And on a surface, people can look at that and be like, what, what does that have to do with your dissertation? Everything. Right? And as a result, she has been showing up consistently working on her proposal. She’s going to laugh at this next part, but she is about 90% done with her proposal. I say she’s going to laugh because she will argue with me, but she is y’all. She is. She’s just so close and she’s going to defend it in January. Again, she might be laughing at this, but she’s going to, um, if you don’t know if you’re my client, I just tell you what your goals are, because I don’t have time for us to like go back and forth about you thinking you can’t do something that I know you obviously can do. And I’m there to support you the whole way. But in my challenge and to my student affairs friends, you hear it. You hear the theory. I challenge you by saying, we’re doing these goals and we’re gonna, we’re gonna work on the mindset needed to achieve them.
So she will be defending her proposal in January by the latest mid-February. Because, because of schedules, I will allow for like scheduling things. But that proposal will be done. IRB will be done. And she’s just gonna roll into the defense, make whatever changes they add, tell her to make and submit everything. That’s the plan here. So Gabby is awesome. Gabby is pretty much just like, tell me what you need me to do. I’m not getting caught up in emotions about anything, I appreciate about her. Um, she is also on team Lacy. She, if you are a current client, you will see emails come from her. She does all client management experience things. And yeah, she’s just, she’s just a good overall spirit. She loves pumpkin spice, everything. So this has been her season thus far and yeah, like you see her absolutely stunning hair, everything just stunning. So I cannot wait to celebrate with her in January. Go ahead and tell her, like, you can’t wait to celebrate with her in January, give her some encouragement, go say hi to her and let’s get to the rest of the videos.
Dr. Lacy’s Doctoral Journey:
So again, this video is from August. It’s all about my journey, things I had to go through. And then the lessons I learned about completing my dissertation. So let me know what you think about it and talk with you next week. All right. So I wanted to take an opportunity to formally introduce myself and tell my story. I know I’ve told my story in like different bits and pieces, but I do think it’s important for me to share like who I am. So you know, who you’re listening to for the whole weekend for always, you know, being good researchers, not good research. It’s not like that language, but good stories I guess, of our research in terms of always stating our positionality. And so that is what I want to do with this session. I also want to name that I am nervous to do the session because I really strongly, I’m not going to say, hate but I strongly dislike talking about myself and the fact that I’m about to do this for extended period of time, please send me some good Juju. I can feel it through the screen. All right. So for the past, I don’t know, two, three years now, my model, one of my personal mission has been to being an example of what’s possible. Um, and this comes from, I would say, like growing up, just really being a loner, um, and feeling like I was always strange one. I like, I didn’t really fit in with my family and no like, no one got me, you know, Disney channel and Nickelodeon were my friends. & my brother used to be so confused. He was like, I don’t understand. Like we grew up in the same place.
Like how, how, and then at one point I was like, what if, what if I should not focus so much on trying to find people who are just like me, but maybe my work is the reason why I feel like an outsider is to be an example, or to find the other people who feel like outsiders and be an example for them of what’s possible. So that’s just been something I’ve been, I like think about whenever I am beginning a new project or even in this business, or I’m just like, just imagine a story you get to tell, just imagine what you get to show people what’s possible that your past, your circumstances don’t dictate what happened in the future that you get to decide, like you have some say so in that. So that is where that comes from. Um, I wanted to share this and this picture on the left here. This is my father. His name is Major Lacey. Yes. His real name is major. He’s Major Lacy Jr. And I’m showing this because we, I realized we didn’t have a lot of pictures together because it’s very difficult to get him to take pictures, even though he loves taking pictures of everyone else. Um, and that’s my niece, my youngest niece, her name is Alyssa. And she has to be in every picture, no matter if she knows you or not, she just needs to be in the picture. And I appreciate her spirit. So it’s like, it’d be a good picture to show, but this was from like a couple of weeks ago. And I’m showing him because my father was my early teacher. I have, I used to and I still do have all of the questions. And so if you can imagine 2-year olds, I had all the questions. Um, and my father is a Vietnam veteran who has, uh, uh, severe, like he navigates a severe case of PTSD from being in Vietnam and the war. Um, he would say it was the longest 18 months of his life and he never wants to go back. And especially when I was younger, it’s he, I think like symptoms were resurfacing or maybe it was just becoming too much for him to compartmentalize. And he was going through a lot in terms of just trying to figure out treatment and what works for him. What that caused was that everyone sort of tiptoed around him. Um, we have similar personalities and that being very quiet and reserved.
And so people make up a lot of assumptions when you’re quiet and reserved. They make up all these stories about who they think you are and how you like what they think you would be like. And so when it comes to my father, people are really like hesitant. I would say around him. And little kids particularly are like, he is scary. He is scary. Um, but me, when I came along, I was like, he’s not scary. He’s harmless. Yeah. He might be, he might be really tall and he yells, but that’s nothing. Um, he says in many ways I helped him, um, to process which, you know, little kids can do, but I would have all my questions to him. And I wanted to know everything. Like, why do we have stars in the sky? Like, why is the sky blue? Like, why do we have teeth? Why are they white? Like, I had questions that I don’t think like anyone was prepared for and I would go to him. And he just was all knowing in my head at two year old, two years old. And so I would always ask him questions and he would always have an answer. And that worked for me, even if the answer, you know, now that I know I’m older, like that didn’t quite make sense or was not quite right, but it helps satisfy my curiosity. And he encouraged me to keep asking questions. And I remember one particular story. Um, one time I was frustrated because I love to read books and I kept asking him to read to me and he kept saying, I’m busy, I’m busy. And I was just like, look, you need to teach me how to read right now because I have no time to keep waiting on someone to help me read.
And I’m sharing this, not going to have to go through my whole life. And I’m sharing this to say, this is really the foundation of, because of his encouragement of being like, sure, I will, I will teach you how to read. I do not know how to even teach anyone how to read. And he would always say he only has a second grade education, but he taught me through memorization. And after that point, whenever I had a question and he would make me go and I’m about to age myself, he would make me go find a big dictionary or big encyclopedia and look up the answer. I don’t know how to spell. I mean, I’m two or three times I’m serious. Like, I don’t know how to spell, but I figured it out. And those are the skills that I have used throughout my life. Even when I went to the university of Georgia where I did my doctoral work. Yes. And if you know about I would tell him, he was like, Oh, whatever, what you want to go eat? Like, he would just totally disregarded, but I know he’s proud on the inside. I know they got all the, all the feelings, but I really liked the picture on the right, because it’s a sign outside of homes and Hunter, the academic building. And if you are familiar with the history of the University of Georgia, Georgia, they are the two that, you know, the media would say integrated the institution. So this is my way of paying, you know, homage to one is ancestor and one is still just living in kicking it, telling them, give the people. Hell.
My Road to PhD:
Okay. So how did I get to a doctoral program? In my mind, I was, I mean, I’m coming from a background of low income, like working class family, like first-generation student. Like no, like it, it was a big deal. It’s a, it still is a big deal in my family to graduate high school. So the fact that I was even going to college was like, wow, you made it. Like you made it, you did it. And the high that I kept going for a master’s and then a PhD, my family, it was just like, we just, we just never, we didn’t even know that was the thing. It was possible. Grew up on the West side of Chicago. I know that people hear a lot about the South side of Chicago. I mean, Chicago is Chicago, but it’s home to me, but the West side needs some love too. It’s not all about the South side. There is a little subsection over there, but the girl making it from here to the South, to Georgia, to the flagship institution, a historically white institution, one that claim to fame is America’s first public institution.
That was a whole new world. It was a culture shock. And everybody warned me about the racism. Like, Oh, you’re going to the south. It’s going to be really bad there. But I felt like no one warned me or even knew to warn me, that I was going to be introduced to, to a new class. So like the middle-class particularly upper middle class students who, and an upper-middle-class students Black students or students of color even. Um, and that was, that threw me off. And I was like, people are speaking in a certain way. They are dressed in a certain way. And I don’t understand like where I’m from. You just say things plain and you clear and you’ll have to like go around in circles. Like, like people, I just felt like had a whole playbook that I just, I could not understand. Um, and I decided to go for the doctorate degree because I was ending my second year as a hall director. And the person you’ll see in the next slide was like, you just need to go ahead and get your PhD. And I’m like, I’m too young. Like, I don’t, you have to do this. Like you gotta work for years. Like I was always told the story, like, you need to work for 10 years and then you go back and get your PhD. At this point, I had only been working for two years as a full-time like post-masters. She was like, no, I did it. You can do it. And that’s really where this idea of you have to see it to become, it really started to solidify for me because here was a mentor that I absolutely saw her. You know I met her right As she graduated. And I saw how she was moving about in the world and how people like regard her. I like, Oh, they called her doctor.
And that she seemed to just get so much respect. And I felt like, here I am, this entry-level, which side note I can’t stand that in higher ed, especially in student affairs, that entry-level means post-masters, but that’s a whole different conversation for another day. But here I was as entry level professional, trying to like, like change things and like fight for students. And I couldn’t understand why we were doing things backwards. And I was like, you know what, maybe if I get this PhD, that would be the thing. Maybe people then will listen to me because I know my ideas are great. I don’t Understand why they don’t know that they are great. So maybe if I go get this degree, I’ll do that. And I was like, well, maybe it was a perfect time as well, because I was newly divorced. I was like, I don’t have any little people to look after. It’s just me. What better time than to invest three years of my life, getting this degree in order to change the system, because I wanted to change higher ed. I was like, student affairs can live up to its name and it can live up to its values and its history. That we we all learn if you’re in a program, a student affairs program that we learning the history about being there for the holistic view of the student and the needs of the student. And so that was what I was doing. I was just trying to figure it out. It was my first time. It was my first time at a large public institution. The first time at a school that did not, that was what over 10,000 students. So it was a whole new world and get your girl was just there. So this is Dr.
Moore. If you have seen her, I keep trying to get her to show up more Instagram and flex on the people, but that’s not her personality, but she absolutely could flex on all the people. I always tell her, she was your favorite fave, your, your favorites fave. But anyway, she was the one who was like, go get it. You can do this. I did this. And so this is at, um, a Sankofa ceremony right before graduation. But anyway, I come, she gets, she helps me to get in. She helps me navigate the process. I start the semester. I’m like, yes, I got this school. School was my thing. School is what I’ve always been good at. Right. I’ve always been A B student, especially when I applied myself. And so I was like this school part is going to be no problem. It’s this other stuff that I don’t get. But I got this school thing, but then I showed up to class and I’m like, Oh, so this isn’t like a traditional you going to talk and we’re going to like take some notes. And then we got to show up and take a test. That’s not what we’re doing. Oh, you just want us to talk. And I was just, I used to be like, I don’t talk. I don’t come to class and just have discussion. Nobody told me that all we were going to do in every class was just talk to each other. And I’ll, I also used to sit there and think like, and what are these people even talking about? Like they’re saying all these words and they’re big words, but it makes no sense to me. Like, I don’t understand their line of logic. I don’t Understand like, did they read the same thing that I read?
And then it made me start to question myself, like, maybe this isn’t for me. Maybe I’m not supposed to be here. Clearly they made a mistake because I had nothing to contribute. And I used to get in my head of like, I don’t know how to work this system because I’m, I’m used to like mastering material. And this seems to be a game of politics and I don’t do politics. I’m just here to get this degree. Like, why do I have to, in terms of instructors, like, why do I have to make you feel like, Oh, good. Or like making like me, or like flatter you throughout the whole class? Like this class ain’t about you its about learning. At least that’s what I thought. And my advisor that I was assigned to, her thing was she has, I’m just going to speak plain. I know this recorded, but you know, this is my story. I’m sharing my truth. Her thing was, she her, all of her advisees were either black women or white gay men. And that’s, I don’t, I don’t know why, but that was her thing. And because Dr. Moore was, I was her mentee and that was her same advisor, which you can figure this out. Now when she met me, I think she was a little bit confused because if you know Dr. Moore and she probably could tell from this, this picture, she’s very, she’s like, she’s honestly, she’s the ultimate Southern bell. Just always, it’s going to be classy. Um, you would never, she would never say a bad thing about you. She’s always put together. You never gonna catch her without her hair done, or a nice outfit. And here I am, like, I got these leggings for you though. I mean, maybe I combed my hair and I don’t, I’m not polishing the way that I talk.
Like, no, again, West side of Chicago, you gone get how I say it. And I think the adviser just didn’t know what to do with me. There was also a side story where I went off on one of her other advisees, but that’s a whole other thing because he was being a white man. And I had to let him know, but that, again, that’s another conversation, but I think a combination of those things may her not want to talk to me. So I would schedule meetings with her. Now, every other advisee who was in my cohort had regular meetings. Every two weeks, I would have to email her two or three times to just get a meeting with her. And when I showed up with a meeting with her, she wouldn’t say anything to me. She would just be like, you just need to learn how to write better. But she wouldn’t say where that came from, she wouldn’t say what she was basing that off of. She wouldn’t give me any instruction, but you need to write better. And so I got to a point about a middle of the middle of the first semester where I was just, I was done. Like I was in my head. I was convinced that I wasn’t supposed to be in this program and I couldn’t do anything. Like I couldn’t even do the reading. I couldn’t do any assignments. I was turning things in late. I would just sit there and stare at the screen, like, why can’t, this is supposed to be a simple paper. Like, why can’t I write, I would show up to do classroom presentations, something that’s supposed to be 30 minutes. I did it all in two minutes. Cause I was too nervous. And I just went through my slides and they didn’t like, didn’t make sense.
And it came to the point where the program director was like, I think we made a mistake. Like I don’t think you were supposed to be here. And you don’t seem like you care either. So maybe you need to consider just leaving. And that just undid me. I mean, I think I cried for like a whole week and I just, I just like stopped, which then as you know, then based on this slide is at the end of that first semester I was on academic probation. I had, did not pass two of my three courses. Um, and the graduate school promptly sent me a letter and said, Hey girl, Hey, you got a semester to get it together. If not you’re going to be excused from this program. And I got so just, just depressed and like, say like, see it’s proof. I’m not supposed to be here. The graduate school said so, the program director said, so my advisor thinks so clearly I’m not supposed to be here. And my father calls me and I think he heard it in my voice. And he was like, you have to come home. And I remember he paid like some ridiculous $500 plane ticket. Cause it was a really close to Christmas. And so he paid for me to come home and people loved on me and reminded me like, no, remember where you come from? Like, look how far you made it. And that whole saying, which it can sound cliche. Like you didn’t make it this far just to make it this far. Like it was ringing true. And pretty much my father was just saying like, we don’t give up, you can figure this out. So go figure it out. He’s not a, like, he’s not like a coddler.
He’s not like a, Oh, let me give you a hug. He’s like, yeah, this sucks what you’re going to do about it. That’s all, it is like the sort of response. And so I decided, yeah, what am I going to do about it? And I switched advisors. And that was like the funniest meeting ever. I Went to her. I was, I don’t think I got the words out. Like, I think it’s better for me to like switch advisors. She’s like, I think that’s best great. It was like a one minute meeting, went to the, what I called the greatest dissertation chairs of all time, went to her, really learned what it was like to feel supported and really changing the mindset of like, I’m going to figure it out. That next semester, all A’s 4.0 semester. And I was being affirmed in so many ways by different instructors, like, Oh, you’re a great writer. Oh, you do have something powerful to say which, I mean, we know racism and oppression is a real thing. And that was my first lesson in the difference between the first semester and the second semester when it comes to instructors first semester, all like, you know, the, um, we’ll use a nice word, like traditional faculty first semester, second semester women, critical scholars, mostly women of color who could affirm me in different ways that the first set could never do. And that was like, that was for me, like the power of having support. So I do the second semester, but like, I’m doing good. Got it. Hit the summer. My graduate assistantship runs out. I can’t eat. Can’t afford to find food. I’m back into feeling like, clearly this isn’t for me. And we roll on into the second year and I’m like, I mean, the food I’m figuring out, it’s fine.
I’m here. I’m trying to like live in the dream of getting this. And in my, in our program we have what is called a publishable paper process, similar to like a pilot study. But it’s a full out you write a proposal, you conduct research. Like you collect data, you analyze it and then you defend it. And so I went to go defend my proposal and my chair was like, yeah, this isn’t a big deal. This is not even a real dissertation. Like, you’re fine. You’re new. You don’t know what you’re doing. And I spent the whole summer working on the literature review because everybody puts so much emphasis on, make sure your literature review is tight. So the time that I was working on this, I spent 80%. Let’s say on the literature review alone because I didn’t really know how to write the methodology section. Cause I hadn’t had any methods courses. So I didn’t know how I was supposed to write that. And so I pieced some things together. Maybe even slightly plagiarized. We don’t know this another time, didn’t this, you know, I’m telling, speaking my truth and I show up and I asked my chair, like you sure I’m good to go? She like, yeah. I walk into that room and the questions and the questions like that just kept coming. Well, what is your methodology? Why do you want to do interviews? Why this population, well, why are you making this decision? Like what are you trying to do in terms of collecting data doesn’t quite make sense with what you say your research questions are. And here I am sitting at the table, like, but what about my literature review though? You didn’t ask me not like one question about this literature review.
And they’re like, well, that doesn’t matter. We need to know how you’re going to conduct research and sitting across two Black women who I admired and faculty and who were doing the thing. I just felt so much shame in that moment that I started to cry. And then I felt even more shame. Cause I’m like, you’re not supposed to cry. That is the rule. Like I always been taught as a black woman. You’re not supposed to cry. You cry when you get home. But that started happening in the room. So then I was crying because I was crying and it was a mess. And they were like, yeah, we can’t pass you and you need to rewrite this whole thing in a weekend and you can send it to us and we can try to do some sort of like email proposal. And That’s what I did. But I, I mean, it took me out. So second year, if you knew me, I had up to this point, I had this huge like fro is to wear my hair out. And after this situation and being like, see, I tried to figure it out. Now we’re back here in the fall. And clearly there’s another key moment as saying, I’m not supposed to do this. I started to cut off my hair at first, it started off with the sides and then I cut off the bag and then eventually I just cut it all off. And I had a fade because I felt like that was the only thing I had control over was my hair. Which, I mean, it led me to these beautiful locs, but it’s just the second year. I don’t know. I call it the dark ages. I didn’t really talk to anyone in my program.
I felt betrayed by my chair. I felt betrayed by the whole program in general. And I was like, I want nothing to do with y’all. Don’t talk to me. I don’t care about what’s going on. I’m going to figure out what it means to live in Athens, Georgia as a town, because clearly this program, that’s not it. Um, and all of my courses, I think most of my courses for that second year were outside of my program because I was just, I was just done with the people. Um, but I did manage to finish that the publishable paper process so that I can then sit for my preliminary exams. Right. But because the second year it was the dark ages. I just didn’t have not one fuck to give nobody. I mean, when I did show up to an event, I was like, hi, if you got that and they’re like, would you talk to this student about joining? You don’t want me to talk to them Cause I would tell them not to come. Like I am not that person for you. But I had like, I don’t know. I just had like a big chip on my shoulder. I had an attitude. But what I started to do was like, Hmm, what’s going to be your plan because clearly this process isn’t for you clearly you need to find something else. And you know, my other goal was I was going to work at trader Joe’s because cookie butter. And I was like, the people are happy. You wear Hawaiian shirts, you get benefits. It’s going to be good. And Dr. Moore was like, but you can’t work there. You, you, you have a whole master’s degree. Like why are you gonna work at trader Joe’s? And I’m like, that’s just rude of you. There’s great people who work at trader Joe’s and I can use my masters there.
Like I know college student development. I could use those skills everywhere. But then I was like, okay, fine. I’ll try to figure something else out. And this third year was when I was like, what if I started my own business? Because clearly higher ed is some fucked up shit and I don’t want to have nothing to do with it. So I’m going to go start my own thing. And so the not caring about the program, like I was separating myself mentally from that was so that I could focus on what could this business thing be like? And I got introduced to this whole world of online business. I started following coaches trying to figure it out. So I didn’t really care, but I was like, I guess I should try to do something to keep myself going. So they don’t kick me out because I still need some money until I figure out what the next step is. So I was just going through the motions. I mean, I was going through classes. I started to be like, um, I guess I could make a friend or two. And Joan Collier who you saw on the team slide had just started the program. And I don’t know if you ever had this experience where you meet someone and you’re like that person’s going to be my friend. They don’t know it yet, but she’s going to be my friend. And she had this whole thing of like, I’m not here to make friends and I’m like, I don’t care. I’m just going to sit next to you. I’m gonna just keep talking to you. You’re going to be my friend. And that really helped because she’s such a big extrovert. She had connections across campus and programs. And because she became my friend and I started getting introduced to other people like Ro, but that started to help because now I wasn’t trying to go through this process by myself.
Now I had other people that I could let in a little bit. I mean, I still had no fucks to give for the program, but I was like, okay, well, these people are cool. And they like going to class, I guess I could like try, give it a chance I could do to go through the motions. So I took my exams focused on that and finished that and I passed, I passed it and I was like, okay, well I’m not doing this dissertation for a while. So don’t ask me anything. So then we’re rolling into the fourth year and I don’t, don’t write for a very long time, which I’ll show you my timeline. I don’t write for, because I still didn’t have no fucks to give. I was dealing with anxiety, depression, all the things. And we go into the fourth year and I’m like, okay, this business thing is going to take longer than I expected. And maybe I could find one fuck to give to finish. Cause I came this far, like I’m three years in, at this point I might as well just finish this thing off and just finish this dissertation and write something and be done with it. And so I started working on it and I thought it was going to be a five-year plan, but my chair had other, she had other plans. So, so then you get my timeline. I started the program August, 2013. I finished my exams and passed November of 2015. Then have this long period where I don’t write anything. I couldn’t look at a laptop. I couldn’t look at a book. I couldn’t do anything. Um, but because of the community that I had established, they went on a writing retreat and it was like, you can, you can come with us. You don’t have to write.
A Four Month Dissertation:
But of course that was a trick. We get there. And good friend Lamesha Brown was like, just sit here, write for 10 minutes, just brain dump 10 minutes. That 10 minutes turned into an hour. By the end of that hour, I had about, I don’t know, somewhere between 15 and 20 pages for my literature review. Now, listen, it wasn’t all literature. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty, it was like song lyrics. It was rants about how, you know effed up higher ed was, a rant about people don’t, they’re not capping for black women. And my chair, she sift through all of that. She read it and was like, okay, that’s a good start, but then here’s your next steps. Um, and so I’ve finished a whole draft of that probably about an end of July because it was a spark that I needed to get going on my proposal. I defended my proposal October and I was like, good. I did a good job. Now I’m gonna start my year process of my dissertation. But in December, that’s my chair right there. The goat Dr. Chris Linder. In December, she sends out this email to her advisees that says, listen, you need to graduate some of y’all. She didn’t say these exact words, but this is how I read it. Some of y’all have been playing too long and you need, you’re graduating in May. So whatever you need to do, you need to figure it out. But here are the deadlines you need to meet. It’s December right now. By March six, I need a complete draft of your dissertation. If I don’t have a complete draft by March six, don’t even talk to me again till the next spring in terms of about graduating and I didn’t want to wait a whole year to leave that program.
Cause remember I’m having an awful time and I don’t like it and I’m ready to leave. And so I was like, well, I got to figure it out. So I applied for IRB, January, 2017 and I collected data. I analyzed and wrote in February and March six. I was at conference ACPA. I remember sending off my draft, sitting in the hallway. It was a very shitty draft, but it was a complete draft of my dissertation. And I defended that on April 11th. So things are going off slow, right? It’s a lot of space. And then it’s like, boom. Now I don’t, I don’t encourage anyone to try to do a four month dissertation. Can you do it? Yes. Should you? No. Cause it was at a cost of a lot of things, but it showed me that I could do it. You might be like, but how I don’t, I don’t know.
1. Keep Going:
Um, here’s the thing. Number one, I would say I just kept going like that based on their story. Like it’s just as simple. I kept going, even through all the failures, even through all the people, like, you know, not talking to me and me not talking to them, being like I don’t have any F’s to gives, just keep going because just because things are not working out. Right. I could have been like at that first, like the academic probation I could have been like, Nope. I mean, I hear you dad, but peace out. I’m not doing this no more. Fuck this shit! Or even at the defense I could have been like, I felt that that’s not going to work. I’m done. Right. It kept going. I’m not quite sure. I’m just going to say the ancestors were with me and gently like pushing me forward because otherwise I can’t really tell you a reason other than, I don’t know persistence, I just kept going.
2. Community Over Everything:
And then the second thing I would say is community over everything, right? That’s Joan Collier. She made me do this photo shoot. You could see my face. I don’t like taking pictures, but she was like, sit here and smile. But that was the best I could do. So yeah, starting to connect to her, we started doing a lot of work with black women on campus. This is, this is one of the photo shoots that we were doing. And the power of being around other black women really propelled me through that four month period, especially thinking about my dissertation and hearing the stories. I got to hear their stories about how it was for them in their programs. And it’s like programs across disciplines. And the story eerily was the same. I came to the institution. I came into a program because another Black woman told me to come into the program. I got into the program that didn’t work out or their relationship became strain. I felt like the only one. And I don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m doing it. And it was always some version of that. And I just thought that, wow. And so how do we give back to them? Like how do we help people feel like they’re not alone? And so we started doing sista circles across campus and the sista circles was a part of my dissertation, but we did that informally as well and doing photo shoots and just doing, get, get together so that people can make connections with each other.
Because what I learned instead, I needed to stop doing this by myself, which is one like the biggest mistake for year one and two, I was trying to go at it alone. That’s why I didn’t feel like really connected. And that’s why I was having such a hard time. Cause we learn different things by the people we are with. Right? So like for instance, Joan, she did her masters in the program with the faculty. She could tell me information that I would have never known because I didn’t do my master’s work there and I didn’t get Southern culture and I didn’t get like the whole politics. And she was able to explain it to me. Whereas if I would’ve kept just trying to do this by myself, I wouldn’t have known that. And I don’t think I would’ve finished. So we need people you need people think about who are the people you’ve talked to. Do you have like a, a group or tribe. At some point you just have to decide to do it because no one is coming to save you. No one is coming to save you. And what I had to do is take responsibility for how did I get there?
I had to take responsibility for my program experience up to that point because I kept saying like, it’s their fault. Like they were mean to me that first advisor didn’t care. She didn’t want to talk to me. That program director like said those mean things to me, my chair didn’t have my back in that defense. It was everybody else’s fault. And while we can find right, some truth in that, I still have to take responsibility for me. I have to take responsibility for showing up. I have to take responsibility for not reading. I have to take responsibility for not being persistent and asking for help or being, uh, receiving that help. Like I had to take responsibility for how I wasn’t showing up. And in that responsibility came, when that email came in December, it’s like you got until March 6th. I’m like, I’m just going to have to do it. If I want to finish in may, I got to do this. Nobody’s making me, but I got to do it. And I didn’t, I still didn’t know how to do it. But I was just like, again, going back to, I’m going to figure it out and I’m gonna just keep taking action and failing. Like what’s the worst. I already failed the defense. Somebody already told me I needed to leave. What else is going to have to go and kick me out. I don’t want to be here. Anyway. Sounds great.
3. Believe in Something Bigger Than You:
You have to believe in something bigger than you. This relates to whatever your faith practice may be. Right? And I’m not necessarily talking about religion with capital R, but whatever your faith, right. It could be, the universe could be ancestors, right? It could be God, it could be different versions of God. But you had to believe in something bigger than you when you realize like you have, you can only take yourself so far as a human. What’s going to carry you forward? It could be the strength of your community. It could be all of that. Right. And the other piece is thinking about your dissertation, which is why I talk about this so much. Think about the topic. Think about the people you’re trying to connect with. They are waiting for you, right? Something I think about all the time is that there is someone on the couch right now. Who’s trying to figure out this doctor, our process is some fuck shit and I don’t want to do it. And maybe I feel like I’m the only one. If I am scared to continue to share my story, or if I’m stuck in my head and I don’t want to do things to help them, they’re not going to get the help that they need.
And I know how that feels. And why would I want to purposely like have someone or let someone feel that way when I know there’s something I could do to help, I might not be able to stop the whole thing, but I could help. And so that helps me to get out of my head and show up. Yes. It’s like gut wrenching. It’s like, people are waiting on y’all they’re waiting on you. Thinking about who you like, why are you ultimately did this, they’re waiting on you? Even if it’s your family, even if it’s you, even if it’s a little version of you on the inside, which Niah is going to be talking about that people are waiting on you to show up. So, you know, as if like doing a dissertation in four months was not enough, I was like, uh, for real, I’m gonna take this business thing more serious. Like I was playing around doing these like courses over here, talking to people about it. I did like try to start a whole other business that was going to, that was I wanted to work with women who were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Um, but because I still have some trauma I needed to work through, that was not a good idea. And the coach at the time was like, well you’re doing this whole doctor thing and you seem to be really good at this whole research thing. Cause you always telling me how you’re meeting with people. Why, why won’t you make that your business? And I was like, I didn’t think that was possible. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I didn’t know, dissertation coaches existed. I didn’t know that there was people doing this. And so when she suggested that I was like, huh, well, that makes sense.
And then that is how I came to Qual Scholars. I was like, this is going to be it. I’m going to help people do some dope critical qualitative research because I get it. And I understand it. Like when my first qualitative research class, I was like, wait a minute. Why come No one ever told me research could be like this. Like why, where other people were like, they didn’t understand. I was like, I got this, I got it. Like, I don’t know, like in my body I got it. It just made sense to me. Um, and so if that is how I came to this company, yes, I started this in my dissertation. Again, do learn from me. We don’t need to do 50 million things at once. We could do one thing at a time, but I started working on this and trying to put myself out there. I said, try because I was really scared to even put a post on Facebook. But again, that’s a whole nother story for a whole nother time. And so the mission here is finish your dissertation with peace and joy. People always tell you like, Oh, we gotta be miserable. You gotta give up your life. It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Right? You got to put your family on hold. You just gotta, you gotta just focus all in. And all that leads to you is feeling miserable, burnt out and over over it. Right. Which is what I was feeling that whole time. I don’t believe this process has to be like that. I know it doesn’t have to be like that. And it’s our mission is to let you know that it doesn’t. Can it be hard? Yes. But just because things are hard doesn’t mean that you have to feel miserable.
And just, just because things are hard doesn’t mean it has to come at the expense of your health, your wellbeing, right? Your, peace simple vision is to help 1000 people become factors so that they can be an example of what’s possible for the people in their lives. There’s a lot of like, like books about like group development or leadership and even marketing. It says, all you need is a thousand people in order to make like this great, gigantic impact on the world. You just need a thousand people because those thousand people will have a thousand people and it will just be a ripple effect. So that is our vision. There’s two main ways that you work with us in the, um, business is first through the finish your literature review course, which we just wrapped up last night and it was beautiful. Y’all like the takeaways and, uh, sharing, the spending, um, five weeks together was amazing. Um, and you didn’t always get this course, but I just wanted to do a special live round of it. And I was telling them that I was being nice with them and like gentle. Cause they were saying I was dragging them and snatching edges. And I was like, I was being nice. Like, just imagine if you were in the finish your dissertation program, like you don’t even know, you don’t know. Um, so the finish your dissertation program is meant to help you finish your dissertation in 12 months or less. And it is a full, I mean, I don’t think program really accurately describes it. It’s like a full experience. We’ll definitely be talking more about the finish your dissertation program tomorrow, but I wanted to mention it here. So I want to say thank you to you all for coming and being a part of our journey, right? Because when I think back to who I was August, 2013, there was no way I could have imagined this. I can’t even imagine making it to my second year, let along like a whole business, helping other doctoral students, students through their journey.
Join Finish Your Dissertation:
Hey, you ready to take this work further? Then it’s time for you to join the finish your dissertation program. Finally get the tools, resources, and structure. You need to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to MarvetteLacy.com/apply and join the finish your dissertation wait list. I’ll see you there. Bye for now. Thanks. Thank you for joining in for today’s office hours. Make sure you come on Instagram and tag me at Marvette Lacy. Let me know what your thoughts were on today’s episode until next time. Do something to show yourself some love. I’ll talk to you next week. Bye for now.