The road to a PhD has many guideposts
We celebrated all our newly awarded PhDs at the Divisional Academic Ceremony held in the Logan Center for the Arts on Friday, June 8, 2018. There have been 70 PhD graduates this year and 37 received their hood, ceremoniously placed by a family member, a valued colleague, a research mentor, or the faculty marshal, Allan Drummond. This blue PhD hood is a gift from the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association (MBSAA).
Diane Lipscombe gave the keynote address, which is included below. Her talk emphasized the importance of taking your own path, whether through a scientific career or through life. It’s a rare individual who takes an entirely linear route, and for many the tangents and curves are what make the journey interesting and meaningful. In Dr. Lipscombe’s words: It’s your choice.
I want to first congratulate all the graduates here. What a beautiful day and what an incredible accomplishment
You made it - take a deep breathe, enjoy, remember this moment.
You made it without permanently alienating your friends, family - at least the ones who are here.
And to your family and friends - you made it too.
This milestones that you are celebrating with these amazing graduates are made so much more meaningful and - so much more possible with your support, patience and encouragement.
So you are now Doctors of Philosophy in the discipline of Biology.
- You’ve learned to acronym speak
- You are all one degree hotter than last year.
- And you are part of an elite group who can build complete sentences with acronyms
AHP, ATP, CaV, CMV, CRE, CREB, Cry-EM, EGF, EST, miR, MAPK, NMDA, PKC, RNA, RT-PCR, TGF, TNF, UTP, VEGF ……… OMG
- You’ve doubled the number of people in this world who know as much about your dissertation thesis as you do.
- And you can stop reading PhD Comics and start to read the ones in The New Yorker
On your journey toward your degree……...
You’ve laughed, cried, fallen in love, fallen out of love, felt the exhilaration of discovery and the crushing pain of that one last experiment or finding that one last paper that should have solidified your thesis defense date was the the first crack in the wall of your favorite hypothesis.
But - here you are - as graduates of the University of Chicago - walking in the footsteps of some of the most remarkable scholars in the world
And the questions shifted overnight from when is your defense to
what are you doing now - what is your future as a PhD?
It’s your Choice
Some of you know, some of you don’t,
some of you will be at the bench, some of you won’t
Some of you will take the road less travelled
Some of you have cleared your path
But the world needs scientists in all places and you are leading the way graduating to
In setting policy that is data driven, based on scientific fact
And in research
Who you become is Your Choice
Your success is not yours alone
I am a granddaughter, a daughter, a spouse, a mother, a friend, a student, a mentor and teacher, a builder, a scientist, and I only follow on the dance floor.
I am the granddaughter of a cleaner, a cook, a fisherman and a waiter. Fiercely independent, my grandma used to tell me I deserve my PhD because I worked so hard for it, she cleaned other people’s clothes and lived in a one room tenement.
I am the daughter of a secretary and everyone’s best friend, my mum is a giver and carer. She tells me I deserve everything that I have because I’ve worked so hard, she endured heartbreak and tragedy, and emerged.
At 16,I was elected head girl of the school, and then leapt from the straight path that would have been (in retrospect) so easy to follow, but this was 1976, and along with Pink Floyd I erected a wall between me and the things and the people that I loved.
By a stroke of luck, I was hired as a lab technician at Burroughs Wellcome in Kent in the lab of Sir James Black, Nobel laureate. And that was the beginning of my scientific career. Surrounded by scientist, mathematics, biologists, and experimental science - I found my passion but Jim Black gave me his outstretched hand and I took it.
Within a year I was studying at the other UC, University College in London.
Brick by brick, family, friends, mentors and strangers gave me the courage and most of all the confidence to tear down the wall and a world opened up to me that I didn’t know existed.
Who you become is your Choice
Don’t follow the crowd no matter how inviting that low energy well looks, the climb is much more exciting
I want to leave you with the last Stanzas of a comical piece by WH Auden a brilliant writer who
Wrestled with inner antagonists the logic of day and the impulse of night.
Leave you with the last stanzas of a poem by W H Auden - a of the Individual, the maverick. This was written in 1946 just after the end of World War II. It was his tongue in cheek warning to be a rebel
“Under Which Lyre” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:
Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.
Between the chances choose the odd:
Read the New Yorker;....
W H. Auden 1946