When I decided to pursue further studies, I was excited about the adventure, but I was also on the lookout for the possible signs of isolation. This is because a friend had told me about how isolating doctoral studies can tend to be. Research also shows that isolation remains a prime factor as to why many students experience attrition during doctoral studies.
Growing up in Uganda, isolation was an anomaly since I was always surrounded by loved ones. We had each other’s back from house to house in the village. When a mate was out of salt, she or he could get some from the neighbor’s house because of the open door communal policy. In victorious times, we danced, played drums and sang together. During miserable times, we lamented and mourned as one. In fact, due to living in such a close and caring village, it was easy to detect any feelings of isolation. At the hint of one person keeping to one ‘self, the elders, mothers, aunties and uncles, would inquire, “What is wrong and why are you alone?” Culturally, it is not good for a person to be alone. Isolation was not a positive attribute most of the time, expect when it served retributive purposes through extreme disciplinary measures and punishments for unaccepted behavior.
In contract to isolation, we were taught to value a healthy amount of solitude. Solitude was what Jesus desired when he ” … went away to pray early in the morning.” (Mark 1:35)
The likelihood of isolation upon starting the doctoral seemed far away during the initial days, until I was told about the weekly blogging process on tumblr, opening up a twitter account and the need tag my weekly posts correctly. Not only that, but I needed to work on the PLDP, MLP and visual ethnography exercise, oh my foot!! Isolation seemed like the best choice at that time. What followed was the advance in London and I thought to myself, “What does traveling to Europe have to do with the Dmin?” And there was the monster of all- KATE Turabian’s manual.
The good news is that the isolation from the initial confusion, only lasted a few days since the leadership of the Dmin and my advisor were of great help as they responded back to my inquiry in a timely manner. So the feelings of isolation at the beginning of the Dmin program where short leave.
Even though I had been through similar processes in my previous programs, granted that certain aspects of the Dmin were still new; my main challenge at the time was that I was going back to school after spending a couple of years traveling internationally while doing global health and development work.
Due to my earlier days in the Dmin programs, I can understand how new students might begin to feel isolated. New students, are normally faced with trying to figure the confusion about the syllabus, classes and online stuff. The feeling of isolation can happen during the different stages of orientation. For example, I did my best to keep up with the newness of the Dminlgp program, but during particular times of confusion about the requirements of the program, I felt a little bit of isolation.
Let me demonstrate how isolation might creep in for a new student in the Dminlgp #… If the student does not have a clear understanding about the requirements of the program, the feelings of isolation might quickly grow into feelings of being left behind and overwhelmed. When I experienced the feelings of isolation, it was always helpful when I asked for clarity and I was met with gentle and repetitive communication.
Isolation happens in life, yet even then, Shelley shows the up side of isolation in her book Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader: Shelley writes about how the experience of isolation “forms a hunger for and a deepened relationship with God which will affect all future ministry since ministry flows out of being.”
 Hawlery, P. Being bright is not enough. (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas. 2003), 43.
 Shelley Trebesch, Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1997), 44.