Alhamdulillah, at last I’ve gone through that dreading Proposal Defence for my PhD journey; it’s like an official statement to say that half of my #ShahrillsRoadToPhD is completed (though I still need to focus on the thesis and to produce two articles to be published in order to secure the doctorate, apart from the upcoming viva!). So, all the preparations which were highly-intensified since the commence of my 3rd semester on September has produced quite a satisfying outcome (for me!) although I have to admit that the journey was not a bed of roses, filled with hindrance and challenges.
Lecturer, colleagues and friends keep saying that I am getting scrawnier. This is the testament of my stress, juggling between school’s responsibilities & PhD. And yet, some people still have the audacity to question my stress? You’ve gotta be kidding!
OK, according to the ideal timeline proposed by my Student’s Advisor, I should have done my Proposal Defence on my 2nd semester (February 2017-June 2017) but UNFORTUNATELY, I was experiencing my demotivation curve :-
- I’ve lost the drive to focus on my research;
- I felt like I wanted to quit;
- I felt that pursuing Ph.D was a worthless, suicidal act – to defy my comfort cocoon and to trade my tranquil suburban teacher’s life towards uncertain “money and time-wasting” ambition;
- Lost the direction of my research;
- Too occupied with stuffs and responsibilities at school
- Found that writing thesis was not appealing ; and many more.
My “demotivation curve”. The dark phase of my PhD journey between January-April 2017. I hope I won’t experience that block, again.
During my Master’s Degree, I was known by my peers as the “Go-Getter, Kiasu” type and to say that I would be losing my motivation during Master’s Degree would certainly raise eyebrows of disbelieving. And I always thought that the notion of “demotivation curve” was some Bullshits coined by lazy people – NONETHELESS, I learned my own hard lesson when I myself experience that, and now I can vouch that the “demotivation curve” IS REAL! After dilly-dallying for 3 months, I slowly picked myself up and FORCED myself to concentrate on the whole Proposal and Thesis stuffs – partly because of listening to Moana’s song (I know, childish right? But Disney has always teaches me to BELIEVE IN MYSELF) where she discovered that SHE CAN ONLY RELY ON HERSELF for strength when Maui abandoned her. This blog entry penned on 27th April 2017 described vividly my own self-discovery to suck myself out from the “demotivation curve”; you guys can read at https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/myy-pph-d-spiritual-quotient-sq-emancipation-from-procrastination/. The part of the lyrics – “the call isn’t out there but it’s inside me like a tide” – really HIT me real DEEP.
But since April was too late already for my abstract admission (should be sent on the 4th week of the semester in order for you to present your proposal on the 14th week! That’s exactly how universities work; the dates are eminent superpowers to be alerted!), I’ve decided to do it on the 3rd semester so that the timeline plan would not jeopardized; on 4th semester, I can take my Comprehensive Exams and also to concentrate on journals and thesis.
Throughout semester 3 beginning on September, I was feeling very PUMPED UP for my PhD study. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, the hindrance came in the form of my responsibilities at the school. It has always been hectic season for the schools in Malaysia during end-of-year months as there are so many filings and documentations needed to be prepared, as well as “ad hoc” documents summoned by the Higher Authority to the school and of course, the school has to pressure the teachers! On top of that, my school also has decided to organize a Charity Carnival on 30th September 2017 to raise funds for our school’s facilities. A week prior to that as the PIBG Treasurer, I had to :-
- Distribute coupons for 39 classes and class teachers;
- Distribute coupons for the “non-class teachers” (relief teachers) – should be around 25 teachers;
- Distribute coupons to 20 staffs and School’s Administrators;
- Recollect the coupons from the “Tayangan Filem” department;
- Recollect the money paid by pupils who bought the coupons from the whole 39 classes (via their class teachers), 25 “non-class teachers” and 20 staffs/School’s Administrators;
- Recount and recount and recount the money manually.
And on the day of the Carnival itself, I was a one-man-show, alone; to be cooped inside the room to count the money, freshly churned from newly-released coupons and I had to be in constant vigilant so that nobody would trespass the room as there were so many outsiders at the school. After the carnival, I had to :-
- Recount the coupons and the money paid by the outsider stall owners;
- Recount the teachers’ profits;
- Bank-in the money tantamount to RM9,000 via deposit machine as banks were close during weekends.
I have documented the “2-weeks-of-hell” under my blog entry dated 4th October 2017; REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/from-a-public-pleaser-to-an-unapologetic-treasurer-the-metamorphosis-of-the-schools-darling-the-sk-serendah-charity-carnival-2017/. AND to make the matter worse, I received an e-mail from my university reminding me that the submission of my thesis’s Abstract was on 11th October 2017!!! Yeah, seemed like there was a gap from Charity Carnival, no? BUT in order to produce that Abstract, I would have to do extra-reading to ensure the validity of my points AND to secure session with my Supervisor who is the Dean was another hassle as he is always BUSY with tight schedule AND to worsen the matter, he would not be in UPM from 6th October (Friday) as he had conference in Sabah – THEREFORE, I’ve got to get his signature by 5th October (Thursday)!! Can you imagine that????!
I drove my car to his office on the 5th October 2017 and got him checked my Abstract; and then reprinted the newly-amended Abstract, got him signed the Abstract and sent it to the Post-Graduate department in our faculty! Phew! I have to say that my eyes WATERED as I saw my Supervisor’s signature. To reminisce the stress I had to endure due to my school’s responsibilities. And I have that built-in anger towards my school’s administration honchos. They know I am pursuing PhD study and yet they were so merciless to assign me for big posts? We have 90 teachers in the school and don’t tell me not one of them COULD shoulder those responsibilities? I have to say that is a total Bullshit. From then on, I made promise to myself to REALLY SPEAK THE TRUTH IN MEETINGS REGARDLESS IF MY COLLEAGUES WERE TO BADMOUTH OR GOSSIP ABOUT ME OR NOT – I will not burn myself for their sake as I have to think about my own sanity for my PhD journey. That was a metamorphosis experience for me.
Apart from PIBG Treasurer, I am also the Pegawai Asset 2 (Asset Officer) and Class Teacher of 5 Samudera. On the last 2 weeks before the school closed, I emceed 2 events; I toured around the school (4 blocks, Science Labs, Music Room, Co-Curriculum Room, kindergarten, office, Counseling Room, and many more) to count the assets along Sir Edwin Roy; and preparing tedious filing for my 5 Samudera.
Some of my colleagues maybe think I am getting that “big-headed”, straight-talking persona because I am pursuing Ph.D which is not the case. It was because my experience as the PIBG Treasurer that I now become more gallant. I am done thinking about other people’s feeling; when they don’t give a damn about mine. If I have issues, I am going to table them out PROFESSIONALLY during meetings; not to talk-back and gossiping with others but didn’t do anything to solve them. No!
I am lucky in the sense that my Proposal Defence would be during school holidays (but work as PIBG Treasurer never stop!). But unfortunately like I mentioned in my previous entries (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/the-phh-d-bluess-the-plastic-smiles-between-politics-of-the-school-university-an-etch-by-a-very-scarlett-survivor/); I could not secure meeting with my Supervisor or Committee Members due to their conflicting schedules and electrical fiasco. So by hook or crook, I had to face the Proposal Defence’s panels without having any eleventh-hour consultation from my academic team! It was a suicide point; entering the battlefield, unarmed.
Those were the feeling I experienced prior to my Proposal Defence. The moment of truth; the whole 3 months dedicated for yesterday’s 15 minutes!
BUT, since my Qualitative Research class makes it compulsory for us to present proposal slides; I thought why not used the session as my “warming-up session” prior to the Proposal Defence presentation and get Dr. Mursyid’s academic feedback on proposal, no? At least I had that minor preparation before entering the battlefield. On Thursday 14th December 2017, I presented my proposal in Qualitative Research class and gained feedback from Dr. Mursyid and my coursemates. It was a salvation session for me as I FINALLY got that professional feedback I badly needed to improve my proposal prior to the defence session. Thanks so much Dr. Mursyid!
The day. Thanks to my China friend, Vicky for the photos. She was the first presenter.
So, yesterday 15th December was THE DATE. My Proposal Defence session. The date that has been bothering my mind for almost 3 months! I spent night at Kakak’s place at Putrajaya (coincidentally Ayah & Mak were also there) and been practicing my punchlines and puns for the presentation. I entered the Makmal Kewartawanan (Journalism Lab) and found nobody. I waited for 5 minutes and sensed something fishy – did they change the venue without me knowing it??? Well, true enough I found out that the venue was changed to Makmal Pidato (Public Speaking Lab). So, I hurriedly ran to the lab and found the people there.
I was explaining the past findings in rhetorical journals – mostly on political, business and religious speeches. My Literature Review.
I was the 4th person to present. Each student was given 15 minutes to present their proposals and then to be quizzed by panelists. On whole, I thought everyone was OK with my presentation – I mean, friends who have watched me presenting topics would know my exaggerating, full of enthusiasm, loud-voice style. Haha! Some even recorded my session as nostalgia. Those were the responses of the audience but for me myself, did I feel that my contents were strong? Not quite. I felt that my “rhetorical style” had covered the weaknesses of my contents. But the panelists were not critical about that as they had no problem with my Background, Research Questions, Signifancance and Methodology. BUT there were two concerns which I should take note :-
- I merely stated that I will be doing Textual Analysis after transcribing Jolie’s speeches. But what are the procedures and steps? Of course it is a common understanding that a researcher knows the procedure BUT I may want to highlight the chronology so that in the upcoming viva, examiners know that I know the steps;
- I may want to heighten the sophistication of my research as this is a PhD level. Therefore it should not be a plain research; must a be a novel contribution to the knowledge. OK, so what if based on the research that Angelina Jolie does follow The Classical Theory or Monroe’s Motivated Sequence or McCrockey’s Characteristics of Good Style? I may want to correlate her speeches on the feminism perspective or her personality as a person? I may want to explore plethora of academic dimensions instead of to merely concur with the old Aristotelian method.
I took note of these two feedback and would use them to improve my thesis. And it was an honour to know that the panelists were enthralled by this topic as it is rhetorical analysis (which is a unique study even amongst Communication-related disciplines as Rhetorical Criticism is somewhat a dubious epistemology, for some scholars) and the source of this research’s subjects (artifacts) namely Angelina Jolie is interesting because for plain people, she is merely known for her Hollywood gossip-worthy personas and not her humanitarian contributions.
The diagram I prepared to summarize Miss Jolie’s globe societal contributions. The amounts of money she donated for UNHCR, The Doctors Without Borders, The Jolie-Pitt Foundation, Namibian Wilidlife Sanctuary and setting up schools of Afghan girls; to name a few.
Alhamdulillah that the session went smoothly. I think mainly because of Mak’s Doa. It is important to get your mother’s blessing. I can feel that her prayers protect me. So now, I have to concentrate on my Qualitative Research exam on 5th January 2018; and for my 4th semester, I have to get ready for my Comprehensive Exams and starting to produce journals for publication. Amin!