Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MS Degree

A few weeks ago I received the paper version of my Masters degree in the mail! In our program the MS degree is just proof that you've gotten to a certain stage as you work toward your PhD so it's not as exciting as it could be (this concept still baffles my family). However, it did give me something exciting to tell my family at the beginning of March! My grandfather was the most excited, I think. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote back to everyone on the e-mail I sent (I've edited using standard punctuation to denote my edits):

...We now have five such degrees, either MA or MS, in the family. This includes your dad, [cousin's husband, other cousin's husband, cousin,] and yourself. I was within two credits of completing mine, when attending night school and summer sessions on the GI bill while teaching full time, when the first of my credits earned started rotting because of excess time. By that time I was within just a few years of my second retirement and decided that the increased effort to reinvigorate old credits would not be worth it. I do admit, however, that I would LOVE to be in the group listed above and I have the greatest respect for the intelligence, focus, and willingness to persevere required to achieve this and higher objectives. You GO girl, we all love and admire you...

I share that part of that e-mail because I think it's very indicative of a lot of things. The first, is that I have a very supportive family that totally encourages both the men and women to pursue whatever type of career/degree path they desire. A lot of women don't have that, and I believe that's one of the reasons that technical fields in general see fewer women in them.

The other aspect is that it is not assumed that anyone will go for a graduate degree even if they do pursue an undergraduate degree! It's amazing to me that some people I know have parents with graduate degrees, grandparents with graduate degrees, etc. They are all almost expected to obtain that level of education; even if they aren't actually expected to, there is at least that perception growing up. I will be the first in my family to get a PhD (at least as far I am aware of!), which makes it feel even more exciting! I guess the MS qualifies for that general type of status as well (being part of the first generation with a large number of MS degrees). I certainly don't think I'm better than other relatives for having done this, but I do think it's interesting to have chosen this path despite not having many family members to have also done so. This is especially true when I think about how few women in the US go for the PhD in general!

1 comment:

Nina said...

Aside from an uncle, one cousin, and a great-grandfather, (well, and one great-uncle, but that's stretching it pretty far I think) I was the first in my family to get even a Bachelor's degree. But somehow I grew up knowing college is what was expected of me. It's sort of strange all things considered.