It's funny, when I think of "defense" I have connotations of basketball drills, and running, and chants from the crowd. But this week I went through a different kind of defense, and academic one. It has been a long time coming, and I'm still not quite there, but it has been quite an experience.
I first started grad school in 1999, right after my undergrad, but we moved soon after and my life took another path for awhile. When I moved back to Raleigh, the opportunity to work at NC State came up. It was a perfect fit (I like to think for both of us), and I really started to not only see, but value what a graduate degree could be for me. I began taking classes again in the Fall of 2004 and it has taken me 5 years to complete my Masters! (I had no idea it was that long - I had to look it up). Now, primarily what added to this duration was my desire to do a thesis. I work with so many researchers, I really wanted to understand what they were talking about (my vocabulary has improved exponentially here) as well as take the steps to maybe, someday, be a professor myself.
My initial plan was to do research in the eye-tracking lab I managed. I wanted to look at the over-use of animations, words, clip art etc. in PowerPoint design. I really wanted to build on Richard Mayer's work and apply it to teachers. However, when the time came, I had switched jobs and discovered Presentation Zen - what would my study add? So, call me crazy, and many people did, I wrote an entirely differet proposal about Social networking using Ning.
Luckily, my committee was willing (espcialy since nothing had really be put in writing about it), to let me change and really supported me. I have to admit, although it was hard, it was the best decision I could have made. It allowed me to pursue something I was extensively interested in. I am also fortunate to work at a place that values my education (its good to know the College of Ed stand behind that :) and were willing to work with me on what I need to do to accomplish my goal. Not many employers would feel the same. The support of my family and friends as been exponential. When they say it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a city to support a graduate degree. And now I'm hoping to give a bit more time back to the community, both on and offline, that have supportd me for so long.
So thank you all, my next few posts will be all about my COMPLETED research!