Pictured on left: me (Phil) and my good friend and colleague Felipe Hinojosa at the CLASS (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) ceremony at the University of Houston's graduation on May 15, 2009. (Watch the ceremony here.) The 3-hour graduation ceremony seemed to go by quickly. My advisor, James Kirby Martin, was out of town, so Kairn Klieman, my African history professor (and under whom I won two writing awards) hooded me.
Felipe was one of my closest comrades in graduate school (along with LKH). We took a number of classes together, and ended up defending our dissertations on the same day. Felipe studies Latino/a religion, and wrote a dissertation on race relations, identity, and the Mennonite church. Felipe and I are also on a panel about American religious history as world history at this month's World History Association annual meeting in Salem, Massachusetts. I'm also happy to report that Felipe accepted a position in the history department at Texas A&M University. (Two other friends who graduated in May with Ph.D.s, Derek Hicks (religious studies) and Luke Harlow (history), both of Rice University, accepted teaching positions at Lancaster Theological Seminary and Oakland University, respectively.)
I won't be too far down the road from Felipe. Last week I accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position in the history department at Sam Houston State University, about an hour's drive from Texas A&M. I received my B.A. and M.A. in history from SHSU, and am absolutely thrilled to return as a professor.
The last few weeks have been a time of reflection. They have also been a time of planning for the next stage in life. Ten years ago this summer I was preparing for my final semester as an undergraduate. Now I prepare to enter the university classroom on the other side of the lecturn.
I started doctoral studies in the fall of 2002, and spent grad school registered as a part-time student as I simultaneously taught history at a college preparatory school from the fall of 2001 until just last week. I can say that I really did enjoy graduate school. I remember with great affection my graduate seminars, have vivid recollections of my comprehensive exams, and of course will not forget my dissertation defense for years to come. It was a journey, and I have many people to thank who helped make it possible.
But, I'm glad it's over, too. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.