This time last year 3/15/14, I walked across the stage in Nashville, was hooded, and became Dr. Ila R. Allen. It was a long time coming for I thought the end would never be in sight and have my freedom back after six years to make it across that finish line. I look back at all of the classes, papers, money, and time that it took to get to where I am now. I know some of you have been on the journey for a short amount of time and some well…. might be ready to throw in the towel, I knew that feeling too. There are so many reasons that we decide to pursue a doctorate degree from personal to career advancement but we are not prepared as we thought we were, reflections.

I was so excited when I decided to pursue this educational, monumental, sacrificial journey, and thought that all would be well in the Land of Oz but I did not “ease on down the road”. The road was rough paved with a lot of rocks, sticks, peaks, and valleys. Quicksand had my brain when I was stumped and could not comprehend certain qualitative aspects of methodologies in order to keep writing. Writing oh how I do not miss thee, to have the pleasure of “detaching” from the laptop for it was forever implanted at my side like a third arm. Writing, the numerous iterations that I had to submit to my mentor and committee. Writing, when everything that I put on paper seemed to just sound like gibberish. Writing, writing, writing, never ending always redoing. Time has moved on but the memories and experience is just as fresh now as it was then, reflections.

Some may read this and say “everybody goes through this” or “why did you not just quit and take a second Master’s” <insert blank stare>. Really? My response was either you are for me or against me, and if you cannot support me then move one. Everybody that embarks on this journey does not make it regardless of how hard they try. I could go on and state a plethora of reasons but we all been there and done that. Some feel that you have not reached the epitome of academic achievement if you have not attained a doctorate, crème de la crème of accomplishments, joining the ranks of the Three Stripes Club. For me, I do not start out to see “if” I can do something for I always have a finish line. I pursued it because I could, because I have the right, and most of all I have the choice, reflections.

It finally feels good to come home and be able to “live” again, reconnect with friends, and even more so connect with myself. A lot of things were given up or delayed while on this journey such as vacations, dinners with friends, or just to be able to relax without a schedule hanging over my head or a deadline to meet. The journey is not for the faint of heart for you are always challenging yourself, questioning yourself, doubting yourself, and sometimes just asking why. It is important that you know ahead of time of what you are made of for the motivation MUST come from within. If you do it for other reasons other than for self you might want to rethink it for only you will be the one to do the work not family, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc., only you. You have to want it, you have to do it, and so be your own motivation, reflections.

I have now come full circle and completed the journey that I set out to do. I found out a lot about myself for I tapped into reserves that I did not know that I had. I pushed myself when I didn’t think I could perform another rewrite and I kept sane in an insane mission but I FINISHED. So do not give up, but do take time to see if you have the determination and dedication to keep going forward. It is not easy but nothing worth having is. REFLECTIONS.