FINDING BALANCE AS A BLACK WOMAN PHD STUDENT
When you hear I’m an African American woman pursuing a PhD in social work, you may think, “She’s got it together!” What most do not know, however, is that PhD students face a great deal of pressure on a daily basis. We’re not nearly the same as other students. We’re older with higher expectations. We’ve left behind careers or even continue working full time as we return to school, still with great financial and familial responsibilities. And often times there is no light at the end of the tunnel as we dive into our teaching and research. As a student of color, I strive to prove myself JUST AS smart and capable in a world where white men dominate. If you choose to build a family as a woman, there is EVEN MORE pressure to ensure your work does not suffer behind your love and devotion to your family. Furthermore, in social work, there is the constant presence of vulnerable populations that DEPEND on my work and the difference I aim to make in their lives. These scary times have amplified this pressure. Yet, my family and community lovingly treat me as if I’ve MADE IT in life when in my head, I certainly have not made it yet. I’ve seen classmates fold under pressure, choosing to either drop out or let everything outside of school deteriorate. I’ve even struggled, telling myself everything from “My PhD comes first. Everything else can wait!” to “You can do it all with more discipline!” These days, I prioritize my wellbeing by CHOOSING BALANCE. I want to finish my PhD, to have a family, to resist discrimination, for my family to be proud, to be an inspiration for others, and to make positive changes through my work. None of this can happen without personal balance. I’m confident the Peloton community will empower me to persevere in finding and maintaining this healthy balance. I hope my story inspires others to also choose balance no matter how unattainable it may seem. Thank you for providing this opportunity and motivating people to put their health and wellbeing first!