Yeah. I’ve been sitting on this news for a while. But this week I arrived on UMBC’s campus as a PhD student! I know; I’m crazy. And I need another degree like I need a hole in my head. But this isn’t about what I need to do, or even about making money. This is purely about what I want to do with my time and my talents.
I finished my MBA nine years ago and immediately started teaching classes in marketing and financial management. After that, I thought about doing a PhD in Marketing and even attended a conference for minorities pursuing business PhDs. What I realized in meeting business PhDs was two-fold. Firstly, a PhD in business is useless for everything except being a professor in a business school. Given that a professor’s salary potential is (generally) less than an executive’s, going from MBA to PhD is hustling backwards unless you just want to do it for the love of teaching. Secondly, I realized that while I did love teaching business, I was no longer interested in studying business. My love for teaching was more about equipping Black students to compete for high-level jobs, and less about the subject matter itself. The thought of spending years of my life on a thesis in Marketing seemed way less fun and less impactful than actually working as a Marketing executive and being in control of actual marketing. So, I tucked my PhD thoughts away and focused on making my way to the executive suite so I could pay off my student loans. (And I did).
Over those years I not only became an executive but I also grew into a performance poet. Poetry allowed me to express my opinions on things I care deeply about, particularly the social experience of being both Black and woman at this point in history. To tell that story properly, I found myself drawn to research and literature. The wage gap. Womanism. Diversity initiatives. African-American Vernacular English. Racial bias and all it’s incarnations across different parts of our lives. I started toying with the idea of doing a degree in African-American Studies, only to find out that there is no such program in Baltimore or online.
Then I stumbled upon an interesting program at UMBC — The PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture. The program is supported by multiple departments at UMBC, with the overarching goal of the program being interdisciplinary study. Perfect for a person like me who doesn’t have interests that fit nicely into one box. This program will allow me to combine the disciplines of Africana Studies, Women’s Studies, Sociology, Media Studies, and even Management into an expertise on issues effecting black women and millennials inside and outside the workplace. Boop!
I read online the acceptance rate was about 10-20%, and I saw based on the current student bios the most come from Social Science and Humanities backgrounds. So I figured coming in with an MBA might be a longshot. But eff it, I am a writer and that’s humanities and shit, right? And Marketing/Communications certainly relies heavily on social science research. After talking to some students and professors, I decided to shoot my shot and applied last year. And lo and behold, in March I was invited to be a part of the 20th cohort this Fall. *insert twerking*. I’m not showing up to campus as an executive, or a poet, or a social scientist, but as all of these things at the same damn time. For the first time in a long time, I’m bringing my whole self. And that feels damn good.
When I decided to get my MBA, I had a very specific goal in mind: money. This time, that’s the least of my concerns. I already make money. I’m just out here doing me. Talking my shit. The same type of shit I talk poetically, but with the scholarly background to grow it. My application writing sample was an analysis of Lemonade as a representation of black millennial feminism and resistance that cited about 50 academic publications. So yeah…. That’s what we’re doing these days. That’s where I’m at.
A masters is about mastering all there is to know about a subject. A PhD is about CREATING KNOWLEDGE within a discipline. You are tasked with knowing what is currently unknown. And I’m so excited to actually add something new to human knowledge! But ya’ll pray for me cuz I still got a day job. Here we go!
#PHD #MBA #UMBC #LLC #Blackademic