This past Friday I attended my doctoral program meet and greet. I went in excited, anxious, and honestly a bit afraid.
You see for me, this educational experience is so much more than just another degree. As a first generation professional, this degree is IT. It’s the trophy of all trophies. It symbolizes access, resiliency, and roots being planted for future generations to achieve their wildest dreams.
I am one of less than 30 people to have been admitted into this program. I am also a first generation Latino college student and when you know that less than 1% of Chicanx/Latinx students attain a doctorate, this degree becomes that much more significant.
When I walked into this meet and greet experience and sat in that room, I had a flood of emotions run through me. I immediately realized that I was the youngest if not the youngest in the room. I quickly noted that I was one of a few Latino men in the space and that compared to everyone else, I was in the beginning stages of my career. I felt it, that knot in my stomach, that tug at my throat…the imposter syndrome had set in. I questioned myself at that moment and asked why are you here?
I know I am qualified. I know I have a lot to offer the field of education and for that matter, the world, but in that moment, I forgot all of this. I felt the weight of those that look up to me on my shoulders and immediately felt guilty for even feeling afraid. Everyone was friendly and I felt supported in this space, but internally I was questioning so much.
After leaving, I sat down in my car and processed what I just went through. I told myself you deserve to be here just as much as anyone else in that room. You are you ancestors’ manifestation work and that is nothing to be taken for granted for. You are magical, blessed, and strong enough to withstand this program and what will come of it. You are the future Dr. Lemus and while this fear is something to work through, it is just part of the journey. You will make it through this.
You see my work as Dr. Lemus will be grounded in the healing of the educational collective. It will be rooted in challenging the norms of educational structures that hinder the progress of marginalized people. It will be spiritually intelligent, culturally inclusive, and inspirational. I refuse to settle for less.
Dr. Lemus deserves to exist. He deserves to live his truth and through this journey, he will reclaim his educational happiness.