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The doctor is in: Frances Ryan, PhD

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 6th, 2019 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: widowhood, thesis, stubborn, school, phd, paul, inspirations, happy, goals, geek, gallery, friends, fear, family, faith, ego, celebrations

It has been a long time coming, but I am finally a doctor. Oh yes, I am now officially Dr Frances Ryan. The PhD kind of doctor, not the medical kind – just so that there is no doubt.

When I say “a long time coming”, I mean that my PhD Dreams began with my undergraduate degree way, way, way back in 1999. At the time, I had hoped to move directly from my undergraduate work at Central Washington University into a master’s degree followed, hopefully, by a PhD. But after meeting a cute boy during my undergraduate year abroad, I put my postgraduate dreams on hold so that I could get married and do all that lovey-dovey family stuff. (No regrets!)

Later, with the full support and encouragement of my husband, Paul, the plan changed to doing part-time postgraduate studies whilst we raised our family (we were getting ready to adopt from the foster care system). But my beloved Paul died before I was meant to begin my studies, and so I put my dreams on hold so that I could relearn how to breathe. (No, really. When you become a widow, you can forget how to do simple things like breathe, eat, sleep, laugh, and even hope…)

But, eventually, I managed to find the strength to return to school for a master’s degree. And at some point during that degree path, my PhD Dreams were renewed. I was privileged to be offered three different PhD placements and I happily accepted the one at Edinburgh Napier University.

My PhD studies began in November 2013 under the supervision of Professor Hazel Hall (director of studies), Alistair Lawson (second supervisor), and Peter Cruickshank (third supervisor). Whilst the “ideal” PhD journey is about three years, my journey took a bit longer than that. Which isn’t uncommon, but I am a bit disappointed at myself for not finishing sooner. (Some of the delays were out of my control, but I have to acknowledge that some were down to me and my self-confidence – or lack thereof.)

In the end, I submitted my thesis on Halloween (2018) just shy of five years after beginning my studies and my (slightly delayed) viva took place in February 2019. I was quite keen to complete my minor corrections in time for the summer graduations, so handed in my corrections a tad bit early (so not everything about my PhD was delayed). After all, graduating on the 4th of July is a pretty cool thing for an American – especially one who is the daughter of two United States Marines!

And so, finally, here I am: Frances Ryan, PhD. Or Dr Ryan, if you prefer.

Of course, this dream could never have been realised without the encouragement and support of others. So, thank you to all of my family and friends in America, the UK, and in the virtual world for helping to see me through this crazy adventure!

I am not certain where life will take me next. Ideally, I will be able to remain in Scotland working as an academic for the foreseeable future. But I am a realist (begrudgingly so) and I know that I will have to be open to opportunities wherever they might be. (If you know of a job opportunity I should consider, please get in touch!)

And now that I have accomplished this great dream of mine, I suppose I should start thinking about the Next Big Thing. After all, having a big goal to focus on is what keeps me going!

You can watch the ceremony on YouTube below. I enter the stage about 6 minutes in, so no need to watch the entire 90-minute show!

The doctor is in: Frances Ryan, PhD - Gallery

Comments

Hello Frances,
Congatulation!! Wonderful, all the best to you!! I became a doctor in 2012 and still remeber the feeling after long years of studying. So, enjoy! :) Looking forwardto read more from you!
Best regards from Hamburg/Germany,
Matthias

by Matthias at 7:32pm (GMT) on July 6th, 2019

Thank you, Matthias! I am feeling a bit underwhelmed by it at the moment, but I think that’s just because of the emotional rollercoaster that brought me here. I am sure that once I settle into a long-term academic post I will start to feel a bit more doctor-ish!

In the meantime, I have some fun geocaching adventures planned so hope to have some photos from those to share soon.

All my best,
Frances

by Just Frances at 9:09am (GMT) on July 7th, 2019

Yes, I can imagine. Following your journey to PhD I´m so happy for you that you finaly reached this goal of yours – so again congratulations!

And yes, I´m looking forward to read more about your geocaching adventures. If you want to join some of mine, visit me on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm2mhkRvgNfVy0lWfsweusw/videos
Ok, it´s in German, but anyway, gc is international… ;)
All the best and hearty regards,
Matthias

by Matthias at 2:38pm (GMT) on July 7th, 2019

You are truly amazing! You kept going even when you weren’t feeling confident.  You set your goal and took the necessary steps to finish and you did it! Congratulations Dr. Ryan!
Carolyn

by Carolyn Fenton at 2:07pm (GMT) on July 11th, 2019

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