Education

Reflections on working toward an Ed.D.

January 13, 2016 by Massiel Perez-Calhoon
Massiel

Massiel Pérez and Robb

Finding success through my doctoral program with Brandman University has come easier than what I expected. I started the program, Fall 1 of 2014. In early September, we started our cohort process by meeting our cohort mentor, Dr. Myrna Coté and cohort colleagues.

We began with nine cohort members. As we started our doctoral trajectory, a baby was born; a wedding was planned and a marriage began; and a new job led to a family moving out-of-state, which left us with five. Ericka Crawford, Linda Carrillo, Lydell Hall, Kelvin Medlock and me, Massiel Pérez. All led by experienced mentor, Dr. Myrna Coté, guided by Brandman University’s expert faculty, informed by Ed.D. staff and supported by a unique, positive bond within our Gamma Irvine 2 (GI2).

With all of this collaborative support, you may feel we are bound for success. But, it’s not that easy. All of us have family and friends that support our decisions to embark on a turbulent, exploratory journey to dig deep, reflect on who we are and create a better version of ourselves as transformational leaders.

Countless hours of desperately needed sleep … gone! Friends? Good luck if we see each other once a year. “I missed your birthday, I’m sorry, I missed a 50-point signature assignment!” Another, book? Yeah right, Amazon loves me! I’ve been tempted to just bring a blanket and sleep under my desk when I have a cohort meeting that goes passed 10 p.m. because the Irvine campus is like my second home.

Without the support of our partners, children, and immediate family, we could not be where we are today. We sacrifice a lot, but what people don’t realize is that so do our families.

I met Robb back in November of 2014, two months after I started the doctoral program. I was living my life the best way I know it. I was in two Fall 2 classes, training for my last triathlon of the season and hibernating in my apartment to avoid calls, friends and family just to complete assignments.

When Robb came over the first time, he didn’t take me serious when I said I started to get ready for bed at 8:30 p.m. Beep, beep, beep! My alarm goes off to prepare for bed and I ask Robb politely to end our night and leave. With a blank stare, he gets up from the couch, puts his water bottle on the counter and says, “Wow, you are serious.” I started to laugh and really had nothing to say but, “Yup!”

As we walked to the door, I quipped, “nothing gets in my way, nothing.”
Crickets … crickets … crickets …
Finally, I said, “OK, well, thanks for coming. Drive safe and have a great night.”

Robb texted me that night and since it was now 9 p.m., my phone was on silent, my triathlon gear was by the door ready for training at 4:40 a.m. and I was asleep thanking myself for completing my assignments before he came over.

Fast forward …

Me: Robb, every three-day holiday weekend, I have an immersion.
Robb: Bummer. What am I going to do all weekend?
Me: Silence …

Me: Robb, I can’t go to the CISCO work event with you, I have a webinar.
Robb: OK, next time. I’ll tell the Johnsons you said hi.

Me: Robb, do you want to just stay home and watch a movie?
Robb: Are you paying attention? You keep staring at your laptop.
Me: Well, I can watch the movie but, I have homework.
Robb: Silence …

Me: Want dinner?
Robb: Sure, what are you gonna make?
Me: Nothing, but I can order it for us and you can pick it up.
Robb: Grrr, OK.

Me: Robb, just so that you know, I have three big assignments this weekend.
Robb: OK, that gives me time to mow the lawn and bathe the dogs (we have 4).

Despite all of the sacrifices, arduous hours of writing, late night and early morning readings, mushy brain syndrome (MBS), and conversations with blank stares, Robb seems to hang in there.

In April 2015, Robb drove to Solana Beach from Trabuco Canyon, a 65-mile drive, one way to pick me and my little brother up after Lourdes Barriga, my brother and I rode 30 and 60 miles to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer with The Boob Ride. Lourdes and I have plans to train again come January 2016, and guess who’s picking us up again?

May came around and I asked Robb to join me early Saturday morning to support me as a committee member with my colleague Dr. Margaret Moodian, who is on the board for the Blind Children’s Learning Center Destination Walk. Dr. Margaret Moodian, Dr. Mike Moodian, Saralynn Smith, Robb and I walked a 5k to raise awareness and funds for the Blind Children’s Learning Center with Destination Independence.

Come the end of May, I received the BU email asking for volunteers for the 2015 Commencement and guess who I signed up? Yup, Robb and me.

I cannot be more proud of him when he is willing to keep up with me and my shenanigans.
As you can see, sacrifices, adjustments, flexibility, support, understanding, give and take, love and more love.

I want to thank my cohort, Ericka Crawford, Linda Carrillo, Lydell Hall, Kelvin Medlock and mentor, Dr. Coté; all of the School of Education’s faculty; Ed.D. staff and of course, Robb! All of us would not have made it so far if it were not for this cadre.

Drum roll … Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, Robb and I became engaged!

About the author

massiel2In addition to working toward her doctor of education degree at Brandman University, Massiel Pérez is an academic advisor at the Irvine campus, serves on the university Wellness Committee and runs marathons. She previously wrote about her experiences with meditation.

 

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