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countdown to convocation: day 38

April 7, 2018

lisa hammershaimb

April 7
Presentation Result: Success

Defense

And just like that…the presentation is complete. I survived my twenty minutes of speaking. With the exception of my supervisor (who once again asked a somewhat left field question about an aspect of my study I hadn’t thought about for almost a year now) the committee asked questions that were mostly more thought-provoking than terrifying. They challenged word choices and some general semantics but they overall praised what I’d done, how it came together, and what was created in the end. I have minor revisions but the supervisor tweeted to the world I am now Dr. Hammershaimb and as he is mostly right most of the time, for all intents and purposes, I am finished.

Last night was about drinking all the champagne and soaking up the many many many congrats messages that came from all around the world. (Ironically, I slept way better the night before the defense than the night after because last night I kept reminding myself it was all finished, and then getting way too excited to fall back asleep.) Today it is making plans with friends for celebratory drinks and dinners and (finally) beginning the travel plans for convocation.

Though I am basically finished from a technical standpoint, things have moved so quickly that I have a feeling this will take a bit longer to process on an emotional level. There’s been lots of question on the theme of, “How does it feel to be done, Dr. Hammershaimb?” Very honestly…it feels wonderful and all the positive adjectives but I also feel more than a little disoriented and incredibly tired. I just checked the blog and realized last month today I didn’t have an external and was still in the middle of the endless waiting.  Now it is all complete. Yep, I’d say given the pace of this past month not to mention this past year…my feelings of disorientation and tiredness might be normal.

For now I think the official countdown to convocation postings will slow down as I’m hopeful the week ahead will be a beautifully boring one, but to complete things I am going to take further inspiration from Dr. Cronin (who I’ve viewed as kind of my big sister on this doctoral process and who, paradoxically ended up having her own viva just a couple weeks before me!) and conclude this season with the Dedication and Acknowledgements from my dissertation. Disclaimer: My final dissertation was just about 112 pages total. I took this to mean I could go extra long on the acknowledgements and no one would notice…clearly, flawless logic and further proof of my new doctoral status! : )

This work is dedicated to the educators who choose the uncharted realms and the less traveled roads. Your daily commitment to show up to the remarkable ordinary of higher education is bringing good on a scope far wider than you can imagine.


First, huge thanks to my participants. This dissertation would not exist without you first trusting me, and next sharing the scope of your own experiences as design educators. The dominant narrative in education seems to be one of brokenness, where crises and chaos reign supreme and without an outside savior, meltdown is inevitable. While it is easy to believe the hype, after spending time learning from each of you I am convinced that far from being a negative, “broken” means we now have the privilege of taking the pieces of the past in our hands to re-build with our students something that works best for this time and this place. Though the situation is complex, your commitment to creative peacemaking between old and new systems and your commitment to being human-first in all ways has made me hopeful about our future as design educators.

Next, thanks to my super amazing supervisor, George Siemens. Early in this journey George told me that a doctorate is roughly 30% you adding new knowledge to the world and 70% you developing as a human. I thought at first this was just a quaint George-ism but soon came to realize one’s supervisor is mostly right, most of the time. This journey provides an ideal opportunity to train your weakness and—if you’re willing to do the messy internal work—slowly turn it into strength. Thanks George for showing up both in the glory and the less than ideal bits, for all of your patience in my paranoid, passive aggressive pestering, and above all for your unwavering advocacy. On the other end looking back, I know I am a far better human for the process. Hopefully you too have gained some good in these past many years since clearly…it does take a student to raise a supervisor!

Thank you too to my committee members, Jon Dron, Catherine Spann, and Brian Sinclair and Katy Campbell. While I may have not fully appreciated your comments and suggested edits while I was in-process, it is clear that this piece is much stronger for your astute perspective and I am grateful for your honesty.

Huge thanks as well to Cohort 6, past and present: Peggy Lynn MacIsaac, Tracy Orr, Leslie Duran, Viviane Vladmirschi, Lynne Rabak, Craig Rose, Rosetta Sornabala, Neera Arora, Dan Ritco, and Shelley Pinder. While I have no doubt we are all strong and capable of doing this all on our own, I am so glad we don’t have to. Co-heart is indeed an apt description of the love I feel for you all. I am so thankful that you welcomed me into your lives and made me an honorary Canadian.

Thanks as well to Jessie Jones and Krystal Zahara from the Faculty of Graduate studies. Your calm patience toward me and your dedication to walking me off the ledge time and again when I was basically at my worst was so much appreciated.

Thanks as well to the worldwide network of friends who have walked with me through this process. Your cheerleading and constancy (even when I am pretty sure you had little idea of just what I was doing because…I myself was lost!) have been life for me on more occasions than I can count. A special thanks to The Practice Tribe for teaching me how to center and root myself into the beautiful mystery that is transformational community. This vision of connection and service for the sake of the world helped keep me on track when—during the long middle—I was sorely tempted to wander. A special thanks to Roselyn Heims, aka the comma lady, for showing up and saving me at just the perfect moment.

Massive thanks to my family: Harold, Jean, Sarah, Jody, Dan, Ruthie, Micaiah, Peter, and Yali. Thank you for digging in and being present through it all. Your constant reminders both in words and actions that I am loved unconditionally have grounded me and held me through so much and I am confident I could not have made it through without your support. Thank you for being positive no matter the dire circumstances I predicted and for reminding me in so many ways that all would be okay in the end. Also thank you for listening to numerous presentation rehearsals, reading and re-reading drafts, and becoming inadvertent experts on studio pedagogy.

Finally, thank you to the non-human who has been with me through it all, Ruby Joy. Your spirit, spunk, and total commitment to live in just. this. moment. never cease to challenge me to take a much healthier perspective on life. Thank you for keeping supervisory meetings light with your webcam appearances, being my co-lead in research interviews and focus groups, and reminding me that inspiration seldom come when staring at a blank screen thus playing fetch is always the correct choice.

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