Last Sunday Pablo S. called me to tell me that he is now Dr. Pablo. And he thanked me for steering him firmly to his PhD in Civil Engineering at Stanford University. It was sweet of him to thank me for encouraging him. He is shy to use the Dr. bit but I told him to roll the syllable around his mouth and his mind for a while to savor it.
My friend Adda Z. was was lollipopped today. She walked down the long corridor of the Graduate Division office at Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley to file her PhD dissertation. After a few minutes of rifling through Adda’s lovingly crafted stack of typewriting, the lady behind the counter (no doubt) beamed her smiling approval that Adda’s manuscript conformed to the University’s format requirements. And then the kind lady gave Adda a lollipop in reward for her 4 years of hard labor. So, Adda is now a Dr. of Civil Engineering cum Lollipop.
And in a Dr’s hat trick – just this morning, while waiting for my train, I idly looked at my business card attached to my backpack. It is adorned with my name Edmund Medley, PhD., PE, CEG, the latter being just a few initials I am entitled to use. If I had huge business cards and was a Brit. I could write them all but not being much of a Brit anymore, there is a scant coda. But I do not care for the imbalance of the suffixes, and if I had the choice, would prefer to balance the ungainly string by sticking Dr. at the front, and removing PhD from the back.
I loved the Dr. syllable from the time Julie wrote me an encouragement in 1992, two years before I finished my PhD: “”Happy Birthday Dr. Medley. May the next years bring all good things” We have the scrap still, framed where we can see it – a memento of the difficult passage that our PhD was (as it is for anyone studying in their 40’s). Being prematurely indoctrinated went along with day-dreaming of graduation and, once, a practice walk down the Sproul Hall corridor with a little stack of paper so I could dream of my lollipop day to come. (Julie accompanied me in the real wander down the corridor in 1994. My lollipop was a sweet kiss from her, a Berkeley Bear tie, and an afternoon sleeping beside the duck pond at a local park.)
Now that I am a Dr, I don’t need to visualize corridors, because Dr. is the lifelong lollipop that I now and again like to quietly suck when I feel need for some pride and self-recognition.
So: to my friends with your brand new Dr. prefixes: be proud of your syllables. You have worked very hard to earn them…..