My confirmation day arrived, and I presented a 20 minute glimpse of my research proposal, the literature informing my decisions and aims, how I intend on gathering the data, and why this is of significance to the academy. This presentation is done in front of a panel of senior academics, who are considered experts, and able to decide whether to either confirm my project, make recommendations for corrections which may be needed, or recommend the project be terminated. The panel had already received in advance copies of my formal paper, a 42 page, 10,000 word document I crafted over the last few months. Confirmation is one of the most significant milestones of the PhD journey, as the next time I present to a panel will be when I am submitting at the finish line.
My panel for confirmation was Professor Max Smith, Professor Terri Lovat, and Associate Professor Kathleen Butler. Also present was my supervisory team, the three senior academics who guide me through this PhD journey. I am very fortunate to have an absolutely stellar set of supervisors, they are Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Professor Penny Jane Burke, and Professor John Lester. With the guidance of this team, I was not overly worried that I wouldn’t pass confirmation, because I trust that they wouldn’t allow me to progress to that stage if I wasn’t ready. BUT I was still very emotional on the day, and stressed in the lead up to confirmation day. It wasn’t due to fear of failure, I’ve work hard for over a year to develop this work, I trusted I would pass. I was emotional from the strong sense of how fortunate I am to live in the era I live, to be walking on a path which has been forged by strong Indigenous people who have gone ahead of me. I do not stand alone in this journey. I do not travel this path for myself. Every time an Indigenous person progresses through PhD confirmation, that matters, there is so much work to do, and traversing a PhD successfully opens up opportunity to do certain tasks and push the envelope in new (old) directions. I am standing in a position no member of my family has ever had opportunity to stand in before, I have worked hard to create a project which draws on the knowledge of Indigenous scholars and people, while satisfying the Western criteria of what can be legitimised as knowledge. That is a trip in and of itself. I believe the work I do, matters. This project matters, academically, and to me personally. So this milestone and the culmination of work it represents just hit me in my heart. But I keep that inside, and presented with as much calmness as I could muster.
I was successfully confirmed, without corrections.
After being confirmed, I enjoyed a very valuable conversation with the panel, and it was a very positive experience. Their feedback was great, and I left feeling deeply grateful for the people who have made this progression possible.
I am a link in a Millenia long chain.
Returning to my work office at Teachers and Teaching Research Centre I was greeted by a crowd of smiling faces, the whole team had come together to celebrate my confirmation, and there were lots of sweets. It is great to feel so supported on this journey.