Convocation 2017

Me, Dr. Daniel Laitsch, and Dr. Carey Chute

Finally… I cross the stage… oh wait a minute, I took a detour mid-stage and avoided shaking the hand of the SFU Alumni President. Could this be a metaphor? Like, I’m not done? A denial of the end? I had full intentions of crossing the stage… no, I didn’t. Another lie. I never visualized myself crossing the stage. I did see myself sitting with faculty after being hooded, hence the detour. I guess I should have read ALL of the instructions inside my folder. I read the hooding portion and that’s it. All I had to do was follow my friend and classmate Carey Chute but I must have lost sight of him. Do not fret. I did get my alumni pin and my sudden detour did not make the video of the convocation LIVE, so I’m good.

The day was such a whirlwind. I caught the first ferry with my husband, picked up my kid from Starbucks at Horseshoe Bay who was coming back from a concert from the night before, then we went for breakfast at Denny’s before heading to SFU. I had to teach that morning before convocation, so I set my family free to roam SFU campus. I taught from 9:30am to 1:00pm then went down the hall to the Academic Quadrangle to get my gown. I barely got past STEP ONE of getting ready, but thank goodness for the volunteers who helped all of us to get ready for convocation. I was so glad to graduate and spend the afternoon with my friend and classmate Carey Chute. He supported me throughout the dissertation process. I was the keeper of Flat Carey from Dr. Michelle Nilson’s Class from the summer, How to Complete your Dissertation. He kept me entertained all afternoon.

My favourite moment was captured in a screenshot sent to me from my friend who was watching my convocation LIVE at home (see below). Don’t get me wrong… I loved getting hooded (even though Dan hit me in the face during the process… and said sorry soon after). It was this moment when I realized that I’m his equal… his peer. Dr. Alice Christine Ho Younghusband, EdD. Now that’s a mouthful. I’ve wanted this my whole life. My dad remembers me as a kid writing my name out on paper with all “my letters.” Sadly, I realized in my mid-40’s that my dad snooped in my room during my teenage years. That aside, the letters after my name are: Dr. Christine Younghusband, BSc, BEd, MEd, EdD.

I am proud of my alma maters, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. Now at the end of this chapter and my dream realized, I never thought I could do it. I never thought that I would get through my first degree (I don’t think that my dad did either). I never thought that I could get into or afford my second degree (but I became a teacher). I never thought I would get into my masters program due to my reading and writing phobia (but I got in and stayed in). And, well… my doctoral journey took 9-years. Again, I did not think I would get into this program (but I was accepted twice because I declined my first acceptance) and I never thought that my dissertation would be completed (but I finished and finished well). I am happy with my research.

“You don’t embark in higher education with hopes of being the same person.” Thank you Dr. Daniel Laitsch, my senior supervisor, for affirming this and THANK YOU for your belief in me, your guidance, and your gentle approach. From beginning to end, I took a 180. I felt myself turning around during the dissertation process such that I believe that I could not have completed my dissertation had I stayed teaching math. This is the irony. My dissertation is all about teaching, learning, and improving the learning experience of students. Moreover, another reason for pursuing a degree in educational leadership was to learn more about leadership in the field of education. Not only did I find solace in my research, I found solace in this professional learning experience of pursuing a doctoral degree. My reading and writing phobia is no longer. I answered my research question, one that I had for more than 20 years. And, I understand more about leadership.

So, what’s next? I’ve blogged about this since my oral defence and I continue to blog about it now. Acknowledging that I am a different person, it is unrealistic to believe that I would return back to teaching secondary mathematics… even though that’s where my heart is. My experience as a secondary mathematics teacher informed my writing as a Masters student, a Doctoral student, and now academic/researcher. I continue to teach at the university and I LOVE IT. That is very clear to me. I love to teach. I love honing my craft. I love facilitating learning. My students make my profession so wonderful and I would love to continue this. So, I may not be teaching in the Grades 8-12 classroom, but I am teaching at the university and influencing those who may teach in a K-12 classroom. This is powerful. I would also like to continue my research, travel, and present.

In the short term, I have a tonne of things to do. I have another study to complete, a research poster to prepare, and a conference presentation to make. In the meantime, I am also applying for opportunities to teach at the university and finding funding to further my research. This is a learning curve that I’m enjoying but also find humbling. You don’t know what you can or cannot do unless you try. I was also thinking about writing a book on MATH STORIES and my friend also wants us to co-author a book too. This is something that I never thought was possible… but it might be. “Look for and take opportunities that come your way.” More words of wisdom from Dan. Yes, I do overthink and want to make things happen that may not be aligned to my direction. Sometimes you have to reach out to figure out if something is within your alignment or not. There are no mistakes, only learning. This is the greatest human experiment… and I’m loving it.

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