The process of completing the dissertation is a singular solitary task. One is incredibly alone on this intense journey towards the mountain top. Because of our humanness we carry the old familiar doubts and insecurities that sometimes threaten to block the path or topple the traveler off the road and we also carry the belief and hope that someday the mountain top will be within sight. And because of our humanness, one searches and searches for fellow travelers to share the misery and the joy.
SisterMentors women and girls became my fellow travelers. I’m not sure whether they chose me or I chose them. I do know that once we connected there was no way I was going to let them go. The amazing women who were part of my SisterMentors experience did more than accompany me on the journey — they inspired me, taught me, chided and scolded me, laughed at me, laughed with me, listened to me, and worked alongside me. I could be assured that somebody would hear and respond to my deep philosophical musings or the mundane minutia of my particular dissertation experience. For that nurturing experience, I am eternally grateful.
Reaching the mountain top does not mean the journey is over. Oh, no. What the experience of SisterMentors really helps us understand is that even as we struggle, we are reaching and teaching and stretching internal and external boundaries for there are more mountains to climb. There are the determined members of the group who learn to face challenges together and turn them into opportunities. They were with me on this walk– with their unique experiences, incredible talents and different scholarly interests. There are the fascinating young women who are part of the group mentoring process. They, too, were with me on this walk, with their huge eyes wide open, their ears perked and, as my Caribbean sisters, would say “plenty, plenty questions.”
At the end, which we all now know is never an end but another beginning, SisterMentors lets us go. We are pushed gently out of the nest to make room for others but nurtured well enough to spread our wings and soar…