In over six years of writing about the viva I don’t think I have ever posted about my PhD graduation.
The thought came to me a few months ago as, coincidentally, I was asked in a series of sessions about graduation: what happens, when does it happen, when can you call yourself “Doctor” and so on.
I realised that almost fifteen years later I have no memory of my graduation. I know that it happened but all I could find from that day was a single selfie I took.
It’s not even a great photo!
My viva was in June, my final thesis was submitted in August and then graduation wasn’t until December. By that time I was knee-deep in figuring out how to run a business, helping researchers and looking ahead to Christmas. My viva? My PhD? I’d moved on months before. Graduation was probably fun for the ceremony of it, but I don’t remember anything about it now.
You’re not technically Doctor Someone until you’ve had the chance to graduate. But it’s possible that you’ll have done all your celebrating long before you get to that point. Certainly it won’t take crossing a stage or a piece of paper to make you feel your Doctor-ness.
Still, from someone who has no memory of graduation, writing to someone who may have this in their future: I kindly suggest you do something to mark the occasion. Maybe go out for a meal or find a way to share your final, final success with friends and family. Or if graduation is something you can’t attend, celebrate the confirmation of your success in some other way.
Do more than just pose for a selfie!