Woah! I can actually, officially, for real (OMGGGGGGi’msohappy) check off the biggest goal on my list of 24 things to do before turning 24.
#15: Pass my graduate school oral qualifying exam.
I DID IT!
It feels surreal. Some people say that whether you pass or fail, once you leave the room and it’s all over, it kind of feels anticlimactic. YEAH RIGHT. Walking out of that room on Thursday, feeling proud as hell, was the best feeling ever. To come into grad school and be the girl that failed out of one of her classes, struggle through cumulative exam after cumulative exam, but not give up, and work so hard for something, to study and study, and be nervous for weeks… and then finally go in there and show 3 professors how much I deserve and want to be here, then here them say “Congrats Erin, you passed”… unbelievable. I’m so proud of me.
And I’m so lucky to have such supportive/loving family and friends. Thursday morning before the exam, I heard from my whole family and tons of my friends. Just knowing that so many people were thinking of me, wishing me luck, and rooting for me totally rocked.
Surprisingly, the oral exam only lasted just over an hour. Once everyone was in the room, my committee asked me to leave for a few minutes so they could look over my files, transcript, etc. When they called me back into the room, I thanked them for meeting with me, and started my chalk talk presentation. About 5 minutes in, the questions started flying. Some questions, I was able to answer confidently and succinctly, others, I struggled. I worked hard through the stuff I didn’t know. I was nervous (my hands were shaking as I was writing on the board), but I was in the zone the whole time. I was focused.
After an hour or so, they asked me to leave the room again. As I sat in the hallway waiting, I thought about how the whole experience was going. Was I doing okay? Why did they ask me to leave the room? What questions are they going to ask me after they invite me back in? 5 minutes went by. Then 10. 11…12…13… Geeze, why haven’t they invited me back in yet? Oh wait, could they be deliberating already? Deciding my fate? Pass or fail? Oh my gosh, what if I’m done…
Then the door opened. “Erin you can come back in now”.
I walked in, looked at the chair of my committee and he said “okay, we only have 3 or 4 hundred more questions to ask you.” My face went blank. Then he said “We’re just kidding. Congrats, Erin, you passed.”
I swear I could have started crying right there. I kept in together, though. They told me a few things I could work on and classes I could sit in on to strengthen my ochem base of knowledge. Then each of them stood up, shook my hand, and walked out of the room. I took a few minutes to erase the chalk off the board and let “Congrats, Erin, you passed” soak in.
I skipped up the steps to my lab, flung open the door, threw my arms in air and shouted “I PASSED!” I was swarmed with hugs, congrats, and high fives from my lab mates and roomie – who were all there waiting for me.
How cool is that? In one of the happiest academic moments of my life, I was surrounded by the folks who got me to where I am today. Thanks gang, you don’t know how much that meant to me.
I called my advisor and family to tell them the good news and was warmly congratulated. I received emails and texts and facebook messages from so many wonderful friends.
Then, the gang took me out to my favorite brew/pub for lunch, where we celebrated and drank and ate delicious pizza.
I seriously am so lucky to have such great people in my life. I feel so loved. So thank you everyone, for supporting me and congratulating me! It means the world!