Home » University of Kansas » Reflections of the 2019 Cohort: Navigating the Doctoral Program in Uncertain Times

Reflections of the 2019 Cohort: Navigating the Doctoral Program in Uncertain Times

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Sorcha Hyland
Lara Mann
Deb Griswold
Elizabeth Kozleski

The 2019 Cohort members were asked to provide a word(s) that summed up their experience, a few sentences and a symbolic picture!


This year was not what any of us expected, but I still find myself really grateful. I’m grateful for my cohort and the community we formed, grateful to my research team for providing me with so many new experiences, grateful to the KU Special Education Department staff for their wisdom and guidance, and grateful that I chose KU over other opportunities. In a time where I should be missing family back home in NM, I feel like I’ve found one here at KU as well. So very thankful for this experience and excited for the next three years, hopefully not in quarantine. 


My first year in the doctoral program taught me a lot about balance. Maintaining an equal balance between work, family, scholarship, and other life hiccups (like a global pandemic) wasn’t feasible for me. Some days I just had to be a parent and nothing more. Other days I killed it as a student. Often, there was no way to predict which version of myself I would have to be that day. My advisor and other faculty in the program really helped me accept this ambiguity, and gave me new skills for managing it; skills like setting reasonable expectations, creating milestones marking progress towards long-term goals, and prioritizing/re-prioritizing when needed. The people in this program care about you. They know you can be successful in the program, but they want you be successful in all aspects of your life.

My “desk” after a day of working from home with my three year old son.


Starting my doctoral program at KU challenged me intellectually in ways I have never been challenged before. I am most grateful for the support from my advisor, family, cohorts, faculties, and friends who helped me get through every difficult period. My journey will be continued and I anticipate as much excitement as I have experienced in my first year.


Although the year has been full of change and unprecedented experiences and events, it has come with a lot of joy as well. From experiencing the charm of Lawrence, to making new friends and being challenged in my thinking, I am truly grateful for this experience and for the support from my peers, my instructors, and my family.

Finding a way to make doc studies a success when working from home 😊


Stepping into a new world can make you feel like falling through a rabbit hole. But our cohorts and professors provided me the perfect support and enlarged my world view. I am counting the days until I get back to our lively campus again.

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