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Thesis defense, from a chair's POV

Today I had a student defend her thesis. This was unusual, because while I have had loads of Master's students over the last decade or so, this is actually the first time I've had one complete a thesis. I'm in an Education program, and depending on the specifics of their program (if they have to do student teaching or not) some of our students only complete written comprehensive finals, while some complete a semester-long action research project. Some of those projects have been totally kick-ass over the years, and I've had students who have presented at national conferences and I have a publication coming out any day now that's from a student's project.

But, we don't usually have students do a thesis, even though it's an option, because really that requires being a full-time student and most of our students are full-time teachers on top of being grad students and a thesis is unreasonable for them. When I had this student (who wasn't a teacher) tell me she wanted to do a thesis, I was a little nervous. And I wasn't sure how to advise her since it was new territory for me as well. But she had a topic for research that intrigued me, so I followed her lead, and today she defended. And ...


Man, was it GOOD. I mean, she blew the whole committee completely away. Every single member said to me, "You have to get her into Ph.D. work. Does she know how good she is?" It was such a wonderful thing to see, to see not only that completed work but to see how confident and sure she was of herself in her presentation. I was so proud.

So for all of you who are struggling with these pieces of work, know that you probably have an advisor somewhere who is pulling for you. Your work is a reflection of us, and when you do well, it makes us look good, and it makes us so proud to see you succeed. This was one of the good days. I like these days.

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