Guest Post: How The Heck Did You Get Your PhD. By 30?

I know for many of you, it’s midterm time (whether it’s looming ahead of you or it just passed). You’re studying, writing papers, finding time to read your textbook or meet up with classmates. You might be feeling a little draining and wondering, “How am I going to do this?” I thought it would be helpful for you to hear from a woman who has seen the mountaintop!

Melvina just got her Ph.D in medical and human sciences. Her PHD. As in, PUSHING HIGHER – DAMN! LOL. But in all seriousness, she’s doing it and doing it well. I asked her for some insight into how she did it and she’s sharing her insights with us. Ladies, get out your notebooks – she’s taking us to school:

Hi Girls,

First of all thank you to Tara for giving me the opportunity to write this post about getting through your studies as a mummy. Now, I’m no expert by any means on this topic, but as I’ve just been awarded my PhD, I am so pleased that I made it to the other side and feel now is the time to share (can I get a woop woop and an Amen?!).

I don’t really like giving ‘advice’ as such, because I think there are only 2 experts on any one person’s life – yourself and God. However, just because I couldn’t find any proper advice when I was studying, and whilst it’s all still very fresh in my mind and raw in my heart, I just felt that I had to share my tiny pearls of experience with other mummies. I know it’s hard – I’ve been there and I’m on the other side just trying help at least one person feel like they can make the jump too!

So, first of all, I thought I’d give you a little background to where I’m coming from…

I started my PhD towards the end of 2006 and party party partied!

In 2007 my Dad died – big blow there ladies as I’m sure you can imagine!

Also in 2007, I found out I was pregnant – let’s just say it was a pleasant surprise.

In 2008, I had our daughter and took 9 months of university – during which time I was emotionally ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.

In 2009, I distracted myself from my feelings by planning our wedding and in 2010, I decided to knuckle down and do my best. I tried my hardest and then had a viva (like the final oral exam, which is a bit like an interview-stylee interrogation on your work!). The result of my viva was not what I had hoped for. They wanted me to do more and said I had 6 months to do it all in. After spending over 3 years already, I was distraught. But you know what, I did it – and now I’m done! FINITO! DONE! DUSTED! Heck it’s OVER! Praise the lord and pour the champagne!

Here are my top tips…

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Remember that regardless of what happens with your studies, you’re learning. Even when things don’t go according to your timetable and it takes you a bit longer – you’re still learning life lessons. If it does take you a bit longer – so what?!?! You grew a baby in your belly and pushed it out dammit! If you can do that, you’ve already achieved something amazing. So amazing that lots of women with qualifications and great jobs would envy your position – really, it’s true, I work with them now! Everything else after that little person that you have made is a bonus, it really really is. If you have made more than one little person – hats off to you!

Girls, just remember that and you can keep smiling, playing, laughing, hoping and praying – you really can do anything you set your mind to, especially with God behind you. You just have to believe in yourself, know that you don’t have to do it alone and just take one day at a time. If you’re struggling, take a step back– it’s always better to come up for air when the water gets too deep!

Over the next day or two, I’m going to be sharing my ‘pearls’ of experience – so look out for my take on comparing yourself to other Mums, making the most of ‘team Mum’, the pitfalls of juggling too much and problem sharing tomorrow.

Read more about Melvina at her blog, Planning, Praying, Praying (what a good read!)

Read part two and part three.


  1. Britanie Nikolle says:

    This is just what I need :) Such great timing. I am a single mother doing all of my classes online. Finding the motivation to do my homework and read the course work is so challenging. It is so encouraging to read of someone else’s success–definitely gives me extra hope. I look forward to the future posts :). And Congrats on your PhD!!!

  2. Fabulous advice! I’m a former community college academic adviser. I used to encourage my students to do it in their own time. Even the younger students were juggling school with other obligations. And the moms? I told them they could do anything – they’re moms! Congrats on the PhD. Amazing!