Letter: What Mid-Life Crisis?

How Concordia’s Education Department Brought me Back to the Future

Starting a PhD at the age of 53 feels like living life in reverse.

I have been teaching for 29 years and Concordia’s program is the best framework for me to share what I have already learned. In my new home in the education department, I am surrounded by clever, ambitious, and focused 20-something year olds who each intend on being the first to discover, uncover, or invent something new and valuable. All of the students are working on establishing careers for themselves. It is so inspiring being surrounded by young people who sincerely believe that the results of their research will have a positive impact on our world.

All of our classes take place in the hinterland of the Faubourg building on St Catherine St. Other than being perpetually under construction, having one room on the fifth floor that shakes as if it is inhabited by a poltergeist as well as having the hottest heating system and the coolest cooling system–with nothing in between–the location is excellent! In fact, the building is proof that regardless of the environment, given the right mix of eager students and devoted teachers, quality learning is inevitable.

I submitted the final assignment of my first year of PhD studies and I have done well. There are some very obvious reasons for this level of success. The stars aligned for me prior to my first class. An awesome supervising professor decided to invest her time and energy in me and my research. In our first meeting, Dr. Cambre loaded me up with readings, advice, and encouragement.

Additionally, I am blessed with the best cohort of PhD aspirants. Class discussions and group work are provocative, didactic and inspiring. Post-class libations at Grumpy’s provides the requisite social time and extra-curricular activities to strengthen essential and strategic relationships.

The professors in the Education PhD program are top-notch. Saul, Holly, and Diane have helped shape what will soon begin to look like a dissertation–my dissertation.

As I stop to reflect on the year, I realise how much I have learned and how grateful I am. I am already looking forward to my second year and the challenges and successes it is bound to bring. So if this is living life backwards, I highly recommend it!