This is Part One of Casey Camor’s blog series about her path to a PhD in Business Administration at Texas Tech University. Casey’s decision to head back to graduate school and pursue a doctorate in local government financial management was based on her experiences working at the municipal level. Previously, Casey was the Finance Director in West Linn and Milwaukie, Oregon. Casey is sharing her perspectives on going back to school in this series.
I have been having these moments over the past few months where I forget where I am, what I am doing, and why I’m doing it. I chalk these moments up to extensive mental exercises, exhaustion, constant distraction, and being in a place that my brain does not recognize. My days are filled with learning, reading, scheduling, organizing, attending, parenting, writing, and stressing, from 7:00 a.m. usually to 7:00 p.m. (6+ days a week).
Where am I you may ask? I’m in Lubbock, Texas. Yes, a true blood west coaster in Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Lubbock. The people here are extremely nice and caring, in many ways it is easier to be a parent here (of which I am – two amazing kiddos age 3 and 8), and the temperament of the city is low key (although I am much more high strung than ever before). However, it is night and day compared to my previous town, West Linn, in the Portland Oregon Metro area. My lack of recognition really comes from the landscape.
West Linn is hilly and green with easy access to the “big” city of Portland, the beach, the mountains, the river (filled with salmon), and most of all, our family and friends. Lubbock however, is not. Lubbock is flat, dry, brown, dusty, windy, and there are no mountains, rivers or an ocean within a few hours’ drive.
I’ve heard that during the spring, there are these huge dust storms called haboobs. I’m anxiously awaiting that sight! In all seriousness, we have made some great friends in the past few months so I know that certain things are looking up from the landscape perspective.
What am I doing? Often, I must remind myself of just that because to me, it is somewhat unbelievable. I’m here to attend the most amazing (in my humble opinion) business administration doctorate program at Texas Tech University. My primary goal in life has seemed to be constant improvement, get good at what you do, then keep moving and get good at the next thing, and that is what I think I am doing. But I have ulterior motives which I’ll discuss shortly.
I was told that a Ph.D. program would be the most difficult thing I would ever do. It’s not, being a parent is the most difficult thing I will ever do, but next to that, yes, the Ph.D. program takes the cake. My days are filled with coursework, which includes reading highly technical academic papers (which six months in, are completely over my head and humbling), learning advanced statistics and regression (I got a C in statistics in undergrad, so imagine how grueling that is for me), working on individual research projects (which means reading more academic papers then regurgitating them in some sort of cohesive way and incorporating your own harebrained ideas), collecting data (because as you’ll see soon, there isn’t easily accessible data for what I like to research), and attempting to keep some semblance of a personal life (which as a parent I have to do, because otherwise I will hate myself, and my kids might not recognize me).
It is hard. But it is fun and it is growth. I’ve learned more than I knew I could in only a few months. Every day it gets a little easier to do what needs to be done and I get more and more efficient. I often have these aha moments where things click and I understand a previously impossible theory or concept. Those moments make it mostly worth it, mostly.
Next week, we’ll publish Part Two of Casey’s PhD adventures. If you’ve ever thought about going back to school for a doctorate in public or business administration, you can follow along with Casey’s journey in this blog series.