I knew I would participate in my PhD ceremony, though I actually graduated in November 2009. But I forgot until the past few days how important these ceremonies can feel. Our culture doesn’t have many ceremonies, and sometimes doesn’t take the few we have seriously, but I am feeling touched by how many people are congratulating me and wishing me the best for my walk on Sunday. Not that these folks hadn’t received my original excited announcement last November that I was now Dr. Selene Vega – and most had congratulated me then. So I wasn’t expecting so much response from friends and families for what could be seen as just a formality. And I certainly wasn’t expecting myself to be so moved by their heartfelt good wishes.
It does feel like I’ve accomplished something. I remember hearing from teachers throughout my early years of education, usually in a roundabout way from my parents after parent-teacher conferences, that I wasn’t “working to capacity.” Some idea they had of what I seemed capable of that wasn’t showing up in my schoolwork. Not surprising, really. I had a lot going on in a troubled life outside school, and there was little in school that interested me – I was considerably more excited by what I found in books on my own in the library and my parents’ bookshelves. And then in my teens I was absorbed by dance and theatre, leaving early to take classes, go to rehearsals, apprentice in teaching kids’ dance classes. School just was not where my attention was focused.
Over the years, though, my interest in studying and the availability of coursework that interested me and teacher-mentors who could guide me on my path of learning came together in a satisfying way, leading to this doctorate. I’m stilll excited about the research I did for the dissertation – a multiple case study exploring the integration of transformative workshop experiences into daily life post-workshop. And I’m excited about future possibilities – there’s plenty more I want to learn and research. I’m excited also about finding ways to share what I’ve learned and my approach to assisting others in learning and transforming. I’ve been doing that for a long time now (it’s been over 40 years since I apprenticed as a dance teacher!), but the process continues to evolve.