The morning of my preliminary examination I was so tired. I hadn’t slept through the night in about a week. The bags under my eyes were bigger than the suitcases I wanted to pack for a trip to get away.
As I sipped my coffee, I felt my kidneys scream at me; they hadn’t seen much more than coffee and the occasional sip of water in a few days. I was exhausted, and my brain couldn’t fit one more piece of information into it without the risk of every other piece of information tumbling out.
My preliminary examination — the hurdle to advance to Ph.D. candidate — involved a seven-page National Institutes of Health–style grant proposal on my project and an oral defense of said project in front of my thesis committee. Normally, the oral defense is done in person, but due to COVID-19 my preliminary examination was held over Zoom.
I sat down at my kitchen table that…