Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm a doctor, but not the kind that helps people.

We heard this line on some sitcom (Maybe Big Bang Theory) quite a while ago, but it's how I always clarify my current educational status. It's always been a joke that the prefix "Dr." would ever come before my name, because of the simple fact that I faint at the sight of blood and usually just the mention of it makes me a little queasy. But alas, as of last December I am officially Dr. Brandi Greer. The only time I really like to emphasize the title is on fancy invitations in which proper etiquette demands that the address read "Dr. and Mr. Stanton Greer". It's a small victory for my independent side. I mean I lost my last name, can't I get some respect. Those of you who recieved our Birth Announcement/Graduation Announcement/Christmas cards last year may have noticed that we "signed" them from Dr. Brandi and Master Stanton.

Really the title is awkward and I don't think I'll ever really revel in it. When I did graduate, my mom and dad were so proud. I think there were even some tears. I was glad to finally be done with school, but the doctor thing still hadn't set in. As my mom had pointed out many times before, I should be more proud of myself. I tried to figure out why I wasn't shouting from the rooftops about my accomplishment, and I have since then come up with a couple of reasons:

1) It's not my accomplishment, it's all through God's work in my life. I knew I would go to college after high school, because that's what people do. But after my undergrad, I didn't really know what to do. The math department at the U of A needed more grad students to teach, so they offered an assistantship. And not having any other plans and loving the academic lifestyle, I carried on. In my last semester of my master's program, Dr. Jack Tubbs from Baylor visited the U of A campus and my major professor pointed him in my direction. I had no intention of going away from AR or even continuing my education. But God knew. And so with many tears, we decided to make the big move. The whole time I was working down here, I knew that something bigger than me was taking control. I can see it even more now as my work ethic is even worse now than when I was pregnant. I worked hard to finish quickly so that I could move back home, but we all know how that turned out. And now, God is still providing for us in ways we never thought possible.

2) I have an inferiority complex that causes me to believe that I've been able to fool my professors into thinking that I'm smart and I know what I am doing. So in my brain, getting the Ph.D. just meant that I had fooled enough people into believing that I am intelligent to get another piece of paper. I also thought that now I could stop trying to fool people. I was wrong. The funny thing about having a higher education degree is that it really is just the beginning of your career. Now I have to fool a whole new set of people into thinking that I'm worthy of a job.

3) I have always been around the smart people. I've always been at the top of the class. My family is not full of dummies either. And in Grad school, you are surrounded by people who are doing the same thing you are trying to do. So it was easy for me to forget that what my fellow grad students and I were doing was something out of the ordinary. It didn't really hit home at how special my degree was until I read that according to the 2000 Census Bureau, only 1% of Americans have a research based doctoral degrees.

So, I try to remind myself of the unique opportunity I have been given. And I'm trying to keep in mind that I need to be a good steward of the blessing that God has given me. (At this point I could go into another debate of working vs. stay at home, but I'll spare you having to read that again.)

All of this came up today, because my advisor Dr. Dean Young insists (generally on a daily basis) that I call him by his first name, because we are now colleagues. I appreciate that he is easy-going enough to allow me to do this, but for the life of me, I can't. By the same token, I wouldn't call my elementary school teachers by their first names. And could you imagine seeing Mr. Hogue in the grocery store and saying "Hey there Wesley!"? It's just not right. My teachers are still my teachers even if I have earned some extra letters to put with my name. It's disrespectful to think otherwise. So I'll continue to call him Dr. Young. Maybe it would comfort him to know I call him DY in my comfort zones. But then again, maybe that's too casual.

Jack, Dean and me at the Doctoral dinner in December. ;) I had to post this for 2 reasons. First to try out the first name thing. Second, this is historical evidence to see DY dressed in something besides Baylor sweats and t-shirts.

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