Excitals!

Two Oceans Half Marathon #10

Ten years ago running became part of my lifestyle. I did my first 10km and 21km race in July 2010.

I am delighted, enthralled, completely stoked and ecstatic that I have just entered my tenth Two Oceans Half Marathon, and I now have an opportunity to finally secure that prized Two Oceans Blue Number.

When a runner completes ten Two Oceans Half Marathons that runner receives a permanent number and entry into the exclusive Blue Number Club at Two Oceans. Technically, for Half Marathons it’s called a Light Blue Number – but it’s still a (shade of) Blue Number.

People have asked me what’s so special about the Blue Number Club, and the truth is nothing earth shattering. You just have automatic preferential entry into the popular race and a special designated zone to have coffee at the Two Oceans Expo.

When I first saw this special designated zone in 2011 and when I was told it was for Blue Number Club members only, that’s when I decided I had to be a Blue Number Club Member! I asked myself “Why couldn’t I also be one?‘ So I’ve worked towards that long-term goal. Interestingly it’s exactly the same motivation for completing a PhD 🤦🏾‍♀️ – and also a long-term investment into something that I want too.

So I’m super excited that I’ve been given the chance to finish the ten year goal that I set for myself. …. can hardly wait to say ‘I did it!!!!’ on the 11th April 2020 💪🏾🏅

Happy training all my fellow runners 🏃🏾‍♀️

Hope to see you all at the finish line at Oceans next year!

Through the eyes of a new doctor

The world still looks the same. It’s still a beautiful struggle. A beautiful beautiful struggle.

I deliberately haven’t blogged for over a month because I’ve honestly just been adjusting. I’ve been fully immersed in what was going on around me. And there has been a great deal going on.

This is my attempt at a bullet point summary…

1) Emotional experience around getting the doctorate when it struck me that Mrs Cloete had to die for Dr Swartz to be born. It felt raw and I felt hollow. It signalled the commencement of the next stage in my journey – radical self acceptance. The shadow me, is also me.

2) I was a bit overwhelmed initially by all the attention I got when I got the doctorate, however after about two weeks that seemed to settle. Out of pure coincidence three major things culminated in my life more-or-less the same time. Within the space of ten days I heard:

a) I am a finalist for an international e-Learning Excellence Award. I was invited to Denmark to present my case study in November

b) I won the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in the Engineering Faculty for 2019 at my university

c) I was graduating with the doctorate… and then I decided to graduate wearing white converse sneakers and a VannieKaap t-shirt (www.shop.vanniekaap.com) which said “Chise your dreams”. Chise your dreams is a colloquialism in my community which essentially means “Pursue your dreams”.

 

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3) Two articles about me were published on the university website. Here are the links them http://www.cput.ac.za/blogs/bulletin/2019/10/04/innovative-lecturer-shines-bright/ and  https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2635250656506113&id=166568333374370&anchor_composer=false#_=_ I’m just grateful.

4) I’ve successfully managed to secure funding via my university to go on a two legged trip. I’ll be presenting a paper in Dublin, Ireland on the 5th November and then participating in the e-Learning Excellence Awards on the 7-8th November in Copenhagen, Denmark. I applied for my visa on Wednesday morning.

5) I’ve been roped in at my university and got involved in the admin side of research in the Faculty. I’m simply LOVING it! I’m learning so much about the operational procedures required. It’s opened up a whole new world and perspective for me. I’ve only supervised students in the past. I’m now seeing the other end of things – understanding the engine that has to operate to get the vehicle from point A to point B. I was also once again asked by senior management to consider applying for the HoD position in my Department. Without a hint of hesitation I gracefully declined. I’m very pro-my university #MyCPUT. But I’m not yet ready for that, and quite frankly I’m not as interested in doing HoD work as I am about getting involved in research. I told my supervisor that I will have the greatest impact if I get involved with supporting the research program in my department. My heart burns to make a difference there – and I will.

6) I received ethical clearance for some more personal research that I want to do. Kinda excited about that.

7) I had a random horrible experience where I was ambushed during one of my lessons. A group of protesting students entered my class and violently disrupted it. In summary it was a traumatic experience and fortunately things did not turn out worse than what they did. All I want to do right now is get my students ready for final exams

8) Things are going ok with my own students. My stats students and BTech research students are managing. My MEng students are making good progress.

9) I’m the proud new owner of a MacBook Pro! Finally! And switching has been so easy. I’m simply loving it. The machine is so intuitive. It’s super fast too. What a pleasure. #NewToy

10) And finally…. just to remind me that as much as things might seem different, they really are still the same, my Bella reminds me of the real hierarchy in the world (and in my household) everyday. She is still the queen of everyone!

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And that’s all folks

Excited much?

It’s two nights before graduation and the most common question I’ve been asked this week is ‘Are you excited yet?

Interesting, I am starting to feel a little excited, however up until this evening I wasn’t really excited.

I don’t think I should compare my graduation experiences however I cannot help remembering what it felt when I graduated with my BTech Quality degree. For me, that graduation was a monumental achievement. A bachelors degree, something that I deeply desired.

It felt like I reached a major milestone in my life. A distinguishing attribute. But, if being a milestone wasn’t enough, there was more. When I started studying towards that degree in 2009, I also had just started my new life. Post-divorce life. It was the rebirth of me, and along with that came many new things including a set of new ‘university friends’ – my Quality friends, because we all studied BTech Quality together. Together, we shared the challenges, trials and tribulations but also development and the highlights that came with being part time students.

A truly great bunch of people who are incredibly dear to me today. Claudine, Shaun, Hein, Ronelle, Angelo and I fostered true comradery. And since graduation, we’ve managed to maintain fairly close contact. So BTech graduation was extra special because it was something that we all did together.

But wait there’s more….. not only did I graduate with my dear friends on 15 April 2011, but I also graduated with my baby brother (who completed his BTech in Mechanical Engineering when I did Quality). #Priceless. We both were part time students at the same University, in the same Faculty in the same years. And so we both were conferred our respective degrees on the same night. It was a double celebration for my family.

The run-up to that graduation was super awesome off the hook epic. I clearly remember how elated I was at the time. A totally magnificent night. One of my most cherished memories.

So I’m happy about the doctorate graduation. Yes I am indeed, happy and grateful. But only tonight, for the first time since it was confirmed that I’m graduating, did I started feeling a little bit excited while I was packing my bag for the upcoming trip,

My excitement might gain momentum when my Dad and I get on that plane tomorrow morning and make our way to Durban – we’ll see. Although I’m not crazy excited (yet) like with BTech, what I do know is that this is a good feeling. I’m closing my eyes, opening my heart and taking it all in.

Anniversary vibes

Five years and one day ago….My first blog post

My very first blog post offered an explanation for the name of my blog “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants“. In that blog post, I openly declared my seemingly bold intention (at the time) to pursue a PhD.

Now, the tiniest smidgen more than half a decade later, I opened an email informing me that my successful PhD examination results were officially ratified by the Higher Degrees Committee (HDC) of the university. My Dear Giants, today I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to stand on your shoulders. Namasté

#Moment #Connected #Grateful

Namaste

Dreams can come true…

It smells like wine…

It looks like wine…

It tastes like wine…

Admittedly, it’s not a beautiful full bodied KWV Cab Sav or silky smooth Porcupine Ridge Merlot, but it’s definitely not as watery or difficult to swallow as Robertson Chapel Red either. It’s fairly decent.

A little bit dry, some tannin but not very. It’s not very full flavoured and it’s not the softest wine on the palette. Has a slight grape juice flavour (might be my imagination since I know it’s de-alcoholised) but it definitely a wine, not a juice! Has a mild sweet sour aftertaste but it doesn’t last long.

I’m quite chuffed at this discovery. It’s really nice to know that us, sober curious wine enthusiasts, still have an option or two. When I paid for it the cashier mentioned that there’s apparently another brand too but they didn’t have any more of that in stock. Me thinks that this is going to be a new trend – and it can only get better from here. Cheers everyone. 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷

 

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Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock âŒ›ï¸

So I’m still waiting…

I considered not writing about this, but in fairness this blog originated because I wanted to document my PhD journey and this is definitely a part of it.

When I couriered three copies of my final thesis to DUT for examination on the 28th January earlier this year, my supervisor indicated that I’d probably graduate in April this year with the university’s Autumn graduation. That seemed a bit soon for me but hey wouldn’t that have been cool. Obviously, it didn’t happen though.

From submission until mid-April I heard nothing from the university, so I emailed to ask about progress. At that point (19th April) my supervisor then called me to inform me that I forgot to sign the plagiarism declaration of my thesis. Like what? Ok I forgot – but that meant that until the day I asked, my work had probably been forgotten on someone’s desk. Anyhow we move on.

April came and went. So did May. Early June I started feeling anxious again. I plucked up my courage and sent another email. Within hours of me sending the email, I got another call from the university asking for an electronic copy of my work because the examiner wanted one. Incidentally, on the day that I couriered my hard copy work I actually sent an electronic copy to my supervisor, but I decided not to remind them of that. I just resent the electronic copy. Had my work been forgotten on someone’s desk again until I enquired? I guess so. But I decided not to make a fuss. Just go with the flow Bronwyn. Go with the flow.

So June went by and a week after university reopened in July I thought, let me send another email to ask again. There is only one more graduation date at DUT this year – so if I miss September (Spring graduation), then I’ll only graduate next year. This time the HoD of the Department responded to my email. He said that my work has come back from examination and the results are currently in the process of being tabled at the Faculty Research and University Higher Degree Committees.

If everything went well and was successful, then I should be getting feedback within the next two weeks. Successful means either that I passed without needing any corrections or it could mean that passed but I need to make some corrections before graduation. It is highly unlikely that I’ll pass without having to make corrections – statistically only the outliers don’t need to make corrections…

Interestingly though, for my Masters I was the only one in my group that did not need to make any corrections.

The alternative to success, is that I did not pass (yet) and will not graduate this year. If not successful yet, then there is an unlikely possibility that my work was just not good enough, but it’s more likely that something else went wrong.

And ‘something else going wrong‘ was exactly what happened with my Masters. So I surrender to that possibility.

See with my Masters, I completed it in less than a year. Ten months actually, if you consider that I started writing a proposal in February 2011 and submitted three ring bound copies of the final edited work on the 17th November 2011. Only God knows how I managed doing that. My opinion now is that that is a sure thing recipe for clinical depression guaranteed.

After the Masters work was externally examined, in the last stages of approval, my work and that of the five other ladies in my group, was questioned for plagiarism. In academia, plagiarism is the most serious heinous accusation ever. It’s as bad as murdering someone. A cardinal sin. The thing we were told was the trigger of the plagiarism allegation was the statistics chapter of our work (my work and five classmates who were all supervised by the same person).

See, the five other ladies (my classmates) sent their work to a statistician to do that part of the work. This is allowed – there was nothing wrong with outsourcing your stats in Masters. I was broke however, so I could not afford a statistician and therefore I did my own stats. When the other ladies’ work came back from the statistician, because the statistician had used a standard template to analyse the data and report findings, some of the other ladies’ work looked similar. They certainly had not copied and each one’s data was different, but the wording the statistician used to report the findings of two of my classmates in particular, was identical. Our supervisor should have picked that up. But he didn’t. However, someone at the final stage of approval at the University’s Higher Degree Committee (HDC) did….

At HDC, they called for an investigation and all six works with the same supervisor were held back. No graduation until it had been investigated. Innocent until proven guilty they say….. from my practical experience, I can say that’s not how it feels. We (the students) appealed. One of the grounds for our appeal was that if only the stats was in question, since the stats chapter in my work looked so different, it was grossly unfair to us to hold all six works back! We argued that it felt as if we were being treated like villains.

I’m a lecturer and supervisor myself now, and I am able to see it from a different perspective. Our supervisors let us down. The focus of the scrutiny should have been on them, not us. We (the students) jumped through hoops to meet our deadlines. Yet, knowing that everyone is human, I’m overcome with compassion because I now understand that our supervisor just did not have the capacity, nor the confidence at that stage to adequately manage the situation. The whole thing was messed up. It’s one of those things where it’s pointless to blame anyone. And I am who I am today, because of that.

Be that as it may, all the six works were sent to Stellenbosch University to be examined. The report said that my work was completely original. I passed with Suma Cum Laude standards. The lowest mark an examiner gave me was 76% – and that was the internal examiner! And since I did my own stats, it’s the reason why I got the job teaching stats in my Department.

Ultimately, what happened resulted in us missing the Autumn graduation, through no fault of our own. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Initially, when invited to attend the next (Spring) graduation, I didn’t want to go because I was still angry at the way that I felt we’d been treated. But one of my classmates persuaded me otherwise, and eventually I did go. It was rather emotional though, and I wore casual denim jeans to my Masters graduation as an act of defiance.

Coming back to the PhD….. in two more weeks I’ll know. If I hear nothing about making corrections then, it means that I’m not graduating this year.

I wish I wasn’t so nervous about this. I wish I wasn’t so damn anxious. I know, logically it’s all out of my control. I know there is nothing I can do. I am trying really hard to let go of any monkey mind thoughts and stay present and focused on what’s happening around me right now. However that is getting increasingly harder.

Surrender I tell myself, just surrender Bronwyn. … but still I’m nervous.

In this regard I’m consoled by the words of one of my favourite musicians Shawn Mendes though (and isn’t he a cutie too!). He says ‘Nerves means that you care‘. So Yes, actually – I surrender and I do care.

Let this be enough

I find myself sitting on the glossy cinema steps of our best movie place. I’m waiting to taxi my boy and four of his friends home from a night at the movies.

The cinema is a distance away from our home, so four hours ago when I dropped them, I had to make a decision…. was I gonna drive back home and then back to the cinema to collect them (at least an hour long return journey), or was I just gonna try to find a restaurant with a plug for laptop and a steady supply of ice drinks? I opted for the latter.

I just left the restaurant a few minutes ago literally sick and tired of working. It’s been a long Friday. Their movie is about to end, so I find myself waiting in the foyer for them.

And I am thinking…. Let this be enough. I am so grateful that I have a healthy 16 year old son. And that he is well adjusted and happy. He has friends and he is having a good time. Being privy to the boys’ conversation as I drove them here was such a delight. I have no doubt that driving home will be too.

His friends are staying over to do a post-mortem of the movie, and just being able to be part of this experience leaves me feeling blessed. Life is tough. Life is really downright hard at times. But sometimes, like now I just feel content. I’m happy to be totally and fully immersed in the present moment.

Let this be enough