Monday, March 7, 2011

Doctor Mama

I announced to my family last week that I am planning to pursue my doctorate.

The kids all thought it was cool and my son asked me if they would have to call me "Doctor Mama" now.

I smiled because he was just passed toddlerhood when I entered my MBA program, he is now 16.  He and I could potentially be starting college in the fall of 2012.

Why now?  Well, I always wanted to but after I graduated from the University of Iowa, Tippie School of Management in May 2000, thought I should do what other newly minted masters of the universe should do...go to corporate America.  I went a tiny step down and didn't go into CPG - the usual career path of marketing MBAs is brand management for the likes of any company product you find in your kitchen or bathroom - and went to a privately owned greeting card company.

My choices were somewhat limited because of the location of some of the CPG companies.  California and New York didn't even hit the  list, I had sons.  Other places, in the phrases of my husband, then a newly minted PhD were either "too cold" or "too white" for our three black sons.  Kansas City seemed like the best choice.

After three years in that hairball, I was one of many in their restructuring, layoffs, or whatever you want to call it, I was also pregnant with child number six, daughter number two.  We lived in Kansas City with little marketing or brand prospects and a dwindling economy (I date our Great Recession to the little blips in certain industries going back to 2001).  I went into consulting and then, education.  I liked working for myself and having the flexibility of being a full-time mom who structured her life around her kids, after all, they are only this age once and with girls, felt I had an even greater responsibility to be at home.

Fast forward a few years, many surgeries (my daughter), job changes (my husband) and finally a move to a new city (St.  Louis) and it is time to think about my future.  My baby girl is now in first grade (huge hurdle to get into full-time school!) and outside of a few relapses, seems to be living quite well with her rare illness.  I am also a tad bit older than when I left graduate school a decade ago and realize that my fellow Boomer IIs would probably want to hire a Gen X or Gen Y up-and-coming executive who has only known a world of the Internet.

St.  Louis is not a business headquarters so prospects here a little to none.  I thought about my love of education and my upcoming third year in non-profit management and wondered if I am being led to a different direction.  I am also an adjunct professor at a local university's satellite campus and realize I love teaching, being there with the students, it is fulfilling.  Plus, I really like my department chair.

So, here I am, looking at doctorate programs and crafting my future.

I researched schools in St. Louis and most of them focus primarily on either research or a narrowly defined aspect of business.  My interest area includes business but the social aspect of how race, gender, and culture impact economic opportunity.  Perhaps reading Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns has prompted me to look at interdisciplinary programs like the one at the University of Indiana at Bloomington.

Now, my dilemma.  Is it possible to obtain a doctorate with kids at home?  Little kids like my first and third grader.  Can we live in two cities?  Would my husband support the decision?  I know I would get teaching opportunities, I'm good (even if I do say so) and taught at two liberal arts private universities as an adjunct.  I also have a lofty goal of being "Doctor Mama" by time I've fifty.  I'm a little late on reaching that, I will be forty-seven in May.  But, perhaps nothing is impossible if I have the right school, the right advisor, the right committee and acceptance of my 60 hours of graduate credit!

I guess the thing that excites me is that it is not too late to dream.

Doctor Mama...sounds pretty good!

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