During the publication of this edition I will be in Manchester, New Hampshire graduating with a Master of Arts in English from Southern New Hampshire University as a student member of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.

I’d like to thank my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, boyfriend, church members, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, academic advisors, professors, friends, and work family for all the prayers they have said for me, and for the continuous support, both monetary and emotional, they have given me. I couldn’t have done it without you all. I will never be able to repay you, but I sincerely thank you. I only ask that you all please remain with me as I am not quite finished with my academic journey– I am one more step closer, though.

I have spent the last two years studying literature, language and theory as a scholar who plans to move on to earn a doctorate in English. When I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts from Martin Methodist College in 2015, I knew that I wanted to set out to reach the next academic milestone by getting my M.A. Now that I have my master’s, I feel like I would be giving up if I didn’t go for my Ph.D.

A doctoral degree is the highest degree you can earn in a field, so it is the final academic milestone, and one I have dreamed of reaching for a long time.

I’m not sure what the driving force is that makes me want to hold a Ph.D. before I’m 30. It could be that I was raised to never quit anything I start; to not stop until I’m done. It could be my competitive personality. It’s could also be the goal I have set for myself to be the first, and possibly only, member in my family to have the credentials that reflect expertise in my field of study. It could be my desire to reach the same academic proficiency as Dr. Kayla McKinney Wiggins, the most influential professor I have ever had. It could be something as simple as channeling my hardheadedness towards excellence in terms of academia. Either way, I won’t feel like I have completed what I have started if I don’t go on to earn it.

Can I get the job I want without it? Yes. Will I go in debt for it? Most likely. Will it be worth it? It will be to me. It will mean that I have shown expertise in the study of English and it will mean that I have made a contribution to that field. When I make that contribution, that will mean that I have discovered something, or solved something intellectual in nature. By doing that, I will have helped the field I have invested so much time in move forward every so slightly.

By getting my Ph.D., I will be credited for increasing the sum total of human knowledge in way of research, literature, language and theory. It will also certify me for a career as a professional in college teaching, just like Dr. Wiggins. It will mean that I have reached the final milestone in higher education. Mostly, though, it will mean that I have closed the lid on the metaphorical can of worms I opened when I first entered college as a freshman. I will have finally reached the finish line. I will be able to say I have gone as far as I could go. I will know that I have mastered the subject. I will graduate one more time, and will be able to go the rest of my life knowing that I reached the pinnacle of academic standards. I will finally be satisfied, and I will be able to say I stayed true to my raising and finished what I started.

Kayla Beaty is the managing editor of the Times-Journal. She can be reached at kbeaty@times-journal.com.

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