Reading and writing have been emphasized in my life since a young age. I feel fortunate that both of my parents excel in these areas and were intentional with my development in them. My parents would reward me for reading a series of books with the corresponding doll and I remember playing typing games on the computer to increase my speed and accuracy. They were skills that were valued, encouraged, and made to be enjoyable. I had wonderful teachers that expanded those skillsets into teaching me how to think critically about subjects, to organize my thoughts and those of authors, to write for the academy, and take ownership of the work I produced. Never dreaming I would be pursuing my doctoral degree I now find myself looking back with much appreciation for those who equipped me for this season and anticipate the ways in which I will continue to develop during this doctoral training.
I read quickly. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees assisted in honing this skill for academic capacities, but my love of getting lost in a story was the catalyst for an early relationship with reading often. Perhaps it was the desire to escape parts of the reality that I was living that made books – the characters, new locations, and wrapped up endings – so appealing to me. Regardless, the more I have read, the faster I have become. Note taking has progressed from simply recording direct quotes of authors to later insert them into an essay to engaging with the content in deeper and more critical thinking capacities. This is an area that I would like to fully immerse myself into growing further while in doctoral training as I often find myself timid to question the authority of an author or allow myself to fully disagree with any given point. Forcing myself to consistently practice analytical reading throughout this program will no doubt impact how I read and process the information presented. My hope is that just as much as I appreciate and value interaction that does not simply agree but purposefully challenges all parties, that I would become freer to do that as I engage with other authors and field experts.
The weakest area at this stage is my writing. My undergraduate and graduate degrees were not ones that required significant researched writing. With a BA in Sociology and MBA concentrating in nonprofit management, I was writing to submit grants, to train employees and volunteers, to produce annual reports and updates for board meetings. I found over this last year that asking for the input of those who did not have a foundational understanding of my NPO highlighted the weaknesses in my writing and aided towards an elevated final paper. I hope that the training and critical feedback from others who have gone before will strengthen my own writing over the course of these next two years and bring with it an increased confidence in what I have to offer to others in my field.