Friday, 12 May 2017 01:51

Get That PhD

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The Summer is almost over; the Spring is here. The smell of Fall is in the air. Time is flying, and you don't have the doctorate degree yet? What? It is amazing why few Nigerians are not grabbing the PhD degrees. Are Nigerians lazy or have they lost the zeal we were once known for? Are they simply sidetracked by pursuit of other more pressing needs than reading?  Is it alcohol  or foo-foo?

A sidetrack is a digression, detour, departure, deviation. It is time we got back on course because our nation will need all hands on deck after the Buharians  have wrecked havoc on our economy and Nigerians are driven to flee on self exiles, leaving our nation without the needed manpower. It could be worse  than  living with crazy boko haram. Laugh all you want; it's no joke.  Our consolation is our conviction that great success consists of developing the equation:  P =B + D.

Yes,  PhD  is  10% Brains and 90% Determination, no more and no less.

The 10/90 seems right in any human endeavor.

The purpose of this essay is to drive home the point home that what is popularly known as the terminal degree (PhD , EdD, DSc or D.A, MD , etc )is an endeavor to shoot for rather than to avoid .

The highest degree you can earn in most liberal arts disciplines is a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy. However, clinical and counseling psychologists earn a PsyD, Doctor of Psychology nomenclature; medical students earn M.D (Doctor of Medicine).  Educators earn the EdD (Doctor of Education;  Pharmacists earn the Pharm D, and law students can earn J.D. (Juris Doctor) degrees.

In reality, the JD and Pharm D are sometimes considered terminal degrees. However, they are the first professional degrees, since a JD can go further to obtain the LLM, and PhD in some area of law such as international law, environmental, or marine law after completing an acceptable dissertation. Holders of the PharmD can continue work toward the MS and PhD in pharmacology

We say that the doctorate degree in all disciplines  is attainable rather than unattainable. It is regrettable that many Nigerians do not see the need for the doctorate degrees or perhaps  have negative things to say about the PhD. Some say the degree is not worth the paper the diploma is printed on. Some say it is not worth  the considerable time and pains invested in the pursuit or that  it does not worth much in terms of money generated after acquiring the degree.

Others say the doctorate is a waste of time, time-consuming, involves too much suffering, or it is not what it  is trumped up to be. Pessimistic Nigerians are of the mind that the PhD is unattainable. A thing is unattainable if the  person feels the task in unachievable, impossible, beyond one's reach, unfeasible, or inaccessible. Impossibility is a state of the mind, much like fear.  Knowledge is power in most instances, isn't it?

This writer feels Nigerians should not avoid the PhD because it is not  as scary as a terminal illness , such as cancer or HIV. In fact the PhD is quite attainable; it requires only a little bit of effort  beyond the Master's. Whoever tells you that obtaining the PhD is an impossible task is simply telling a fib. A fib b defined as untruth, lie, falsehood, tale, or false story. The US President Donald Trump would say that news depicting the PhD as impossible is nothing more than fake news. Fake is counterfeit, forged, bogus, sham, okwu ashi (Igbo for a lie).

We ought to boycott anyone who tells us to not try a task  because it is unfeasible, impractical, impracticable, unworkable, not viable,  without a solution, or unattainable.  Ask, "Who tells you it is impossible? Are you God to determine impossibility?" Even our Bible say all things are possible for those who have the faith of a mustard seed. Faith is translated to mean hope, confidence, reliance, trust, assurance, conviction, belief, devotion, loyalty. This writer has a confession to make: the PhD is not for the faint-hearted and he says it unashamedly. Despite all your good intensions, you cannot make a person do something  that person feels deeply he or she cannot do.

While you are there with your head screwed wrong and your self –esteem is as low as bodily waste in the latrine, some determined Nigerian  traders at Alaba market, Lagos,  are working towards  and obtaining law degrees  from Nigerian law schools. This  26-year-old girl of Nnewi family in Boston , Massachusetts, is graduating with the PhD in Microbiology. My father's friend  Mr. Onyozili has a son Stanley who obtained Harvard's PhD in political science.

Talk about determined Nigerians! Please move your sorry ass out of the way. Young Nigerian sons and daughters  are bagging the PhD in chemistry, physics, education, and mathematics. It is like "these people are picking  mangoes from the orchard behind Methodist Central School, Igumale, Idoma, Benue State.

This woman from Sierra Leone did not go on to start coursework towards the PhD in Education after obtaining double Master's degrees in Library Science and Educational Administration. She could have done so had she not been complaining about driving for hours in her vehicle out of town two nights a week to complete the PhD coursework.  She commuted twice a week from Atlanta, Georgia to East Carolina State University in North Carolina. The PhD demands energy, dedication, and tremendous efforts to overcome doubts .

This writer has encouraged four persons to obtain the PhD. They were Ugandan woman  at a university in Ohio, a Nigerian man and 2 African American women in Georgia, and African American man  in Florida. We have been trying to assist a medical doctor to complete the dissertation that would qualify her to be awarded the PhD in Nursing . She wanted the Nursing PhD in order to teach nursing and medical students intending to work with patients suffering with the Alzheimer's Disease (AD). All of these people  were able to complete the dissertations and obtained the PhD  with various measures of encouragement.

The first was a woman from Uganda who had difficulty completing the PhD in horticulture which is the art or practice of garden cultivation and management. The Ugandan woman wanted to improve access of Ugandan women farmers to better seeds. She was particularly interested in the science and art of producing, improving, marketing, and using fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants.

Horticulture differs from traditional botany and other plant sciences in that horticulturist incorporates both science and aesthetics or beauty of plants. The Ugandan woman had a large collection of data from home but had  great difficulty organizing a vast amount of data she collected form a survey of basically uneducated population.

One who says to you: "Why do you bother with the PhD when you don't need that in Africa?" is a liar and discourager. He or she lacks ambitious, or does  not want to see you succeed. Do not believe such negative reasoning. Boycott such a cowardly person. Be in the company of birds of the same feather anxious to take off in clear night air over the mountain that  reveals  the celestial beauty of millions of stars. Picture yourself ascending to heaven to converse with your late mother who loved and sacrificed for you, and then returning to the Ogbete Market, Enugu, and ordering a leg of goat to be stewed into peppery pepper soup. You must be imaginative to survive in your quest for the PhD.

First, sit down and make up your mind about what, how, and where you want to obtain the PhD, Questions to answer include reason you want the degree; how you plan to pay for it (scholarship or out of pocket); where you want to go (State school, private school, or online). Serious students prefer schools that have campuses rather than the online types because of 1, cheaper tuition; 2. Access to teachers and well  stocked  libraries; and 3.availability of scholarships, stipends, work study, grants, assistantship /fellowships, and other departmental monies. Money cannot deter a determined mind!

Pick up a phone. Call the Registrar. Go on a university campus.  Get that PhD before you die. The PhD students on physical campuses have opportunities to talk with other students  and learn from their experiences. We do not work on the PhD, burying our heads in the sand like South African ostriches without communicating with others.   Get that PhD, and celebrate, my friend!

Submitted by

Dr. James C. Agazie; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;

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James Agazie Ed D

A retired college Professor  with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics.  Write on topics dealing with Nigerian families, marriages, education, and employment.