At long last, (why do we always say things like at long last, is it always a long and lasting drawn out process?) PhD was awarded last year, and graduation was held in March this year. It was a really delightful day, the weather held out for us, it was a perfect spring morning.
My mother, aunt and brother made our way to Guildford for the graduation ceremony. Ceremonies. I don’t dislike ceremonies, but I don’t particularly like them. However, seeing as the reason for not attending my masters’ graduation was because I said I would go for my doctorate graduation, I really had to go. And it was mainly for my mother. That said, I am glad I attended the ceremony, not so much for the ritual of the day itself, but because it was a lovely way to mark the end of the drawn out PhD affair. Ok, it wasn’t long, and it wasn’t drawn out, but it just seems more dramatic that way.
There were times when I did not think I would ever finish it, and there were times when the light shone just that little bit brighter from the tunnel. And there were times when it was pitch black. Days of being a broke student yet again, as peers advanced in their careers, days of being told that a doctorate was an inhibition to getting married, and some days of just bliss, knowing that this opportunity was a privilege, and treating it as such.
Thankfully, I finished my PhD in good time, all things considering, withdrawing due to health issues, travel or disappearing to Lagos as my supervisors called it, starting work at Edinburgh, all in all, I completed the PhD, I did, it is done, finished, done, ended. Ended.
Yet, as I walked up to the stage to get my ‘golden handshake’, I kept thinking, “This is not only for me.” Yes, it is my name on the certificate, I am the one that got called on stage, and I am the one with the letters behind my name (preference for Adun Okupe PhD as opposed to Dr Adun Okupe), but it is not just for me, I did not do it alone, I could not have done it alone.
And with that, and as it usually happens, I started to think about the things we go through in life, and how reductionist, if I may use that word, it is that at the end of the day, success or failure is ascribed to one person. Yes, I know, it is easier and simpler that way, but life is more complex than that. The success of a leader is dependent on his/her team. So also the failures. The success of a marriage is not dependent on the bride and groom alone, there are so many other factors at play that influence this success. In the same way, my degree is not just for me. No, it cannot be.
So I would like to use this medium to thank again everyone that was with me directly or indirectly on this journey. To my friends, to my family, to those who in their little way made sure the journey was that little bit more comfortable, more enjoyable, less stressful, more fulfilling, thank you. This PhD has my name on it, but has your elves dancing all around the memories in my head, knowing that without your support, the journey would have been longer, harder, tougher.
So, if I was to write my certificate, it will look something like this:
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy has been awarded to Adunola Aderonke Okupe with supporting acts from Opeoluwa Okupe, Fowora Okupe, Mama, Adewale Oparinde, Ponmile Osibo, Patricia Pupek, Victoria Akagwu, Khadijah Junaid, Sammy Li, John Tribe, Graham Miller, Stephen Chan, Olivia Ruggles-Brise, Simi Falae, Nzube Ufodike, Akintayo Abiodun, Olamide Udo-Udoma, Giles Heron, Kim and James Lee, Tele Williams, Andrew Picton, John Grant, Celine Rojon, and all my participants. The list goes on and on, of course.
I know, not enough space on the certificate, but there you have it.
Thank you all for being a part of my journey, and this is for you, and you, and you, and you and you and you.