CITY GIRL: To all my fans, you too can add any feather in your cap
On Saturday, I shall be among the over 800 graduands seated at the graduation square at Daystar University in Athi River. It has been a long and gruelling journey.
The course work was the easy part, writing the thesis was the most difficult. I am so tired and brain dead, so I will take the easy way out with this diary.
My thesis journey began in November 2015 when I was assigned the world’s best supervisors, the brilliant and patient Mr Hesbon Owila, and the quiet but sharp-minded Mr Eric Kadenge. Writing a thesis is an incredibly humbling process. I have spent hours scouring through journals and books online. My chapter one and two is taking shape. This thing called ‘thesis’ is not as difficult as people said it would be. I am already thinking about the dress I will wear for my graduation.
I submit my proposal to my first supervisor, knowing he will be impressed. He calls me days later and asks we meet. Imagine he says that my chapter one is not good enough. My research objectives are unclear and my statement of the problem reads like a ‘City Girl’ column. Rewrite the entire chapter one, and ‘tighten’ chapter two, he tells me. By the end of the meeting, I want to call him a few names but I remember Daystar is a ‘Christian’ university and we are supposed to forgive each other.
I sulk for a few weeks before I finally decide to look at that document once again. It is full of comments, ‘This makes no sense’ and scary words like ‘rewrite, in academic language’. I finally get around it and email my supervisor. Again, he wants me to make more changes and corrections, and I am beginning to suspect he is enjoying torturing me by making me write, rewrite and then rewrite some more.
I am now ready for my first defence. By now, I am so humbled and timid, I am not sure I am ready to face a panel of examiners. The day finally arrives and the Dean, School of Communication, Prof Levi Obonyo, shows up as part of the audience. I am terrified and utterly intimidated. The Lord is on my side, and Prof Obonyo leaves promptly in the course of my defence, I think he had a meeting. After the defence, my supervisor tells me ‘You were too combative and almost rude’. Apparently, I told one of the examiners, ‘You see, if you knew how the media works, you would not ask that question”.
I discover SPSS software. It looks complicated and dense, but after one hour, I am at ease with it and soon, I am coding my data and analysing like a pro. I start my chapter four and five, when I realise that I am not only supposed to present, interpret and analyse my data, but show how it ‘resonates’ with my literature review. Who remembers what they wrote under Literature Review? I want to get inside my car, drive home and never return to Daystar University ever again because, who needs this Masters degree anyway?
I am ready for my final defence. I remember how ‘rude’ and agitated I was in my first defence, so I ensure I am in my best behaviour. I even smile at Dr Leah Jerop Komen, the kind-hearted thesis coordinator. With my tail between my legs, I humbly submit my thesis, and answer questions politely. They seem to have forgotten the past and actually give a good grade. I am ready for graduation.
Late June 2016
After I do suggested corrections, I join the long queue at the postgraduate bureau with my document waiting to see the great Prof Rebecca Oladipo. Oh, I must tell you about the indefatigable Prof Oladipo. She is a walking APA encyclopedia who can smell a mediocre thesis a mile away. Beneath that tiny frame, is a Rolls-Royce mind that purrs on cue and works like a brand new computer.
With her keen and sharp hawk eyes, she will sift through your document, crossing your t’s, dotting your I’s, and ensures every comma and period is in its rightful place. She will ensure you do all your corrections, get your references and citations right even if it means having you return four times until your document is ‘error-free’. Then, and only then, will she clear you and accept your bound thesis which you will leave with her jovial assistant Mr Phillipe.