Currently, I'm in my last semester of coursework of my Ph.D. journey. I'm in the trenches. I'm tired. I'm frustrated. I'm confused. But I'm loving every moment. I'm loving the colleagues I'm meeting and working with. I'm loving my athletes. I'm loving my students. I'm loving the experience. And I'm loving the process. For my Doctoral Seminar course, I will be writing weekly (or bi-weekly reflections) on various topics related to my doctoral journey. If you are browsing this space... enjoy! I will try to keep them real and authentic (one of my core values), and I hope you learn a little more about me. Welcome to my reflections.
Reflect on your personal motivations for pursuing a doctorate.
If you were to ask me five years ago if I would ever pursue a Ph.D., I would’ve told you “Ha! That’s funny!”. I seriously thought that I was never going to get too far into high education. In 2012, when I decided that Sport Psychology was the field that I wanted to pursue a career in. I specifically told my undergraduate advisor that I strictly wanted to work as an applied sport psychology consultant with teams, athletes, and coaches and that I didn’t see myself ever getting into teaching. I also told her that I only wanted to work with elite level athletes! This is a common dream of young students in the field but is often glorified by media and portrayals on social media.
Once I started getting into the thick of applied work with athletes towards the end of my master’s, I started realizing that not only was I a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC), but I was also educating these athletes at the same time. My first advisor in applied sport psychology, Dr. Ken Ravizza, had an educational philosophy approach to his work, and this is where I adopted similar philosophies. During my master’s I was also a teaching assistant that taught some activity courses and co-taught some undergraduate and graduate-level courses with my advisors at Cal State Fullerton. To be honest, I started liking it!
I realized that there were few full-time applied job opportunities straight out of a master’s degree that didn’t force me to relocate out of state. So, I decided to take an adjunct lecture position at my alma mater in Fullerton where I had the opportunity to teach undergraduate sport psychology theory courses and work part-time as a CMPC with some Division I teams. I had dived right in and started really enjoying the work that I was doing. I love making a difference and adding value to people’s lives and this role fulfilled those needs. I was teaching, consulting, mentoring students, helping my advisors with research, and still able to be in Southern California where my wife and I had started making Fullerton our home and community.
It wasn’t until the beginning of my second year in that role where I really began thinking long-term and the bigger picture. It isn’t a secret that adjuncts are over-worked and under-paid. I wanted to have something more consistent in hours and pay, and something that I could settle down and start building a life in that
community. I quickly realized that what I was doing was not sustainable for those needs. I began talking to colleagues, close friends, advisors, and family about making the jump to get a Ph.D. and the verdict was that it was the best decision right now. My wife and I decided that if I was ever going to get a terminal degree, that it should be now (before 30) so we could navigate it together and complete it before we start a family. I’m very fortunate to have a supportive partner that is well established in her career. It was a big move for us from California to Idaho, mainly because she left her So Cal job(s) and all of her close connections, friends, and employers. But to be honest, we were more upset that we left the beaches, our Disneyland annual passes behind, and the year-round cycling (okay...this was mainly me)! We were fortunate to have a place for her to work upon our arrival, so it all worked out!
This leads me to my "why." Why am I doing this? Why am I completing a terminal degree? This is often a very early conversation I have with my athletes. Why do you do what you do? Guess it's time to practice what I preach! Simon Sinek has a great TED Talk where he talks about the power of your "Why" here. First, I’m doing this for myself, to prove to myself that I can and be successful despite going through a challenging journey. About 4% of the U.S. population has completed a doctoral degree, and I’m excited to someday being included in that statistic. I am also doing this for my family and friends. I want to show them that education should be valued, and I will forever be a person that relatives and friends can turn to if they have questions about high education. Another big reason is to be at the highest level of training for my field of choice. This expands my job opportunities, increases my marketability, and ultimately will aid in providing for my family. This training is expanding my knowledge in the things that I love to do - help people. I’m enhancing my capacity to mentor, serve, consult, educate, and produce scholarship in a self-directed manner. Lastly, I also think it will be great to have completed a terminal degree by 30 years old and be the first person in my family to have a doctoral degree. Very cool!
My why is always changing, and I’m sure by the time I leave the University of Idaho, my motives will be different than they are now. But, this is where we are now.