I wanted to make sure I got this blog post in before 2011 because I wanted the post dated in the year the milestone was accomplished.
Some might not see this as much of a milestone, but when I think about how my personal life has changed and been changed since May 2009 and when I think about how much I didn’t want to be a student this fall semester, I realize that for me this was quite a milestone. At least five times a day I wanted to quit but I didn’t. Why? Because I was thisclose to being done with coursework and because I tried to remember that I thought about pursuing my Ph.D. for several years, but it was never the right time. This was the right time because God told me so. Can’t fail him now, can I?
So, what does this milestone mean?
Let’s go to the numbers for a second. Here are two: 11 and 114,325.
In a year and a half, I took 11 classes. Thankfully, with each semester, the number of classes I took decreased, but that first year was a killer. I was burnt out after the first semester, mega burnt out after the second semester and on life support for the summer and following fall semesters. I crawled across the finish line, hoping I did well enough to not embarrass myself with professors. Thankfully, I didn’t embarrass myself.
What’s the 114,325? It’s the number of words accumulated from all the papers and exams written for the classes, not including small things like blog posts, in-class assignments, and billion notes taken in preparation for papers, exams, and in-class assignments. This number would have been a lot shorter had I followed directions and wrote papers that adhered to professors’ word count limits. What can I say? I have a lot to say.
As many know, I love a wordle, so I have a few to show you regarding my coursework journey.
I took all major assignments for each semester and developed a wordle to see the “big” words written about during each semester.
Here’s my fall 2009 wordle.
Main words: writing, technology, students, media, virtual, research, language, classroom
Here’s my spring 2010 wordle.
Main words: African American, classroom, writing, research, user(s), content, romance (and who doesn’t need that?), readers/reading/read
Here’s my summer 2010 wordle.
Main words: blogging/blog, women, black, students, identity, color, content, readers
Here’s my fall 2010 wordle.
Main words: Argument(ation)/Arguments, language, Internet, women, rhetoric, discourse, public, sphere
It was interesting for me to see these wordles, these words because they do show my growth in research interests and my growth in solidifying my main research interests. Out of these wordles came several repeating themes: writing, classroom, race (color, African American, black), women, research, readers/reading, language, and content. Although technology is not in this list, there is a growth in that topic for me because I moved from being fascinated by technology in general, and the Internet, and then blogging. Social media played a role in this as well. These themes, more or less, do illustrate the topics that fascinate me the most.
After a year and a half of coursework, I realized that still many topics interests me, but ultimately, I am intrigued with the relationship between content creator and reader and the space where that content is created, discussed, and disseminated. I’m interested in who these people are and how who they are is reflected (or not) in the content and how readers construe (or not) these identities. I’m interested in how these spaces where content is created can enable marginalized groups to be empowered through and in language and society. And what fascinates me the most about these interests is that collectively they can be placed almost upon any digital space for examination. It means I’ll always have something about digital spaces that will make me say, “Ooh, I want to learn more about THAT.”
And that excites me as an academic.
Before I leave, I have to showcase one more wordle. The first time I tried to drop the entire 114,000+ words into wordle, I think I broke the entire system, but it worked tonight, and I wanted to show what a year and a half of coursework looks like, wordle-ized.
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