A Day in the Life of a USC Global Executive Ed.D. Student

By Jamie Lee

April 18, 2017

5:15 a.m – 6:30 a.m.

I heard that alarm secretly nudging me to awake 30 minutes before my actual alarm set time because BBF&C was calling.  What is BBF&C?  It is our early morning highly disciplined Body by Frank & Christine workout at the USC track.  We meander to the lobby to meet up with our colleagues who are equally neurotic about self-care and take a light jog toward the track, which is decorated with a multitude of banners boasting the Olympic athletes that have traversed on the same rubber composite surface.  Frank and Christine, doctoral colleagues, have a balanced set of cardio and strength training activities to raise our heart rates and elevate our metabolism for the day.

Body by Frank

6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.

We duck back into our pleasantly donned Radisson hotel rooms, greeting each kind employee on the way, to shower and prepare ourselves for the day out at class.  We collect all of our daily belongings into our bags and purses and set out for breakfast.

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Today almost all 18 of us Global doctoral students met for breakfast at the USC University Club Scriptorium, just north of our Waite Phillips Hall at the Rossier School of Education.  The Scriptorium accommodated us in a private room with a bountiful spread of treats to nourish us for the next several hours.  The spread consisted of bacon (lots of bacon), scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, muffins, scones, croissants, orange and grapefruit juice, and coffee.  As our colleagues trickled into the private room, emphatic discussions of the previous day’s happenings, news, or dissertation progress were discussed at length and with great humor.  When it was time to go, everyone in the cohort held each other accountable and supported each other to make it to our final destination, which included allowing Brittany time to finish eating and ensure she safely made it to the classroom despite her 8+ month pregnancy status.  Brittany is a real-life superwoman – she even wore blue and gold today.  I don’t think I saw an S on her chest, but I have to believe it was hiding.

8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

The first instructional session of the day was a load of fun and intellectual energy.  Dr. Yates probably did not expect such enthusiasm so early in the morning, we did not disappoint.  With a little head scratching and questioning, he permitted the group to spend time working through elements of our Chapter 2 Literature Review and Chapter 3 Methodology sections, to ensure that our KMO assumed influences were properly labeled and placed within our working documents.

Class time

9:15 – 9:30 a.m.

We love our break times.  They are filled with flowery conversation, snacks and more snacks, and intense focus on task completion due to the quantity of items to accomplish in support of completing our dissertation chapters and course assignments.  It just depends on who you are and how you like to spend your time.  I tend to be an inconsistent snacker who pivots to laser focus when I have a task to accomplish but can be distracted by a little Brazilian GQ humor or references to previous cohort inside jokes. As a cohort, we genuinely like each other and want the best for each other, our dissertations, and our personal and professional growth.  Kaili walked around helping people understand the KMO framework and the positioning of the charts within our chapters.

9:30 – 11:15 a.m.

After much discussion about learning theories, such as behaviorism, social cognitive, and cognitive load theories and the information processing model, Dr. Yates illuminated us with a nice portfolio of literature we should read; when we should do this additional reading is TBD but emphatically welcomed.  We also discussed the sensory, working memory, and long-term memory characteristics and how important it is to have strategies to push for increasing pieces of knowledge into long-term memory for automaticity and expertise.  Kaili and Dr. Yates continued the lively discussion about learning styles, and although there is no evidence to support a preferred way of learning, several of us are still convinced we draw visuals in our minds to help shift knowledge from working to long-term memory.

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

It’s time to eat again, but no complaints here!  We had a delightful lunch at the University Club Scriptorium.  Every day is a wonderful culinary masterpiece from local or on site vendors.  Today lunch consisted of stir-fried tofu, breaded chicken, cabbage salad, and egg rolls.  We carried on with discussions about politics (yes, U.S. politics) and the history of political parties. As has become transcendent and germane to Cohort 5, discussions proliferate until the boundaries of time and responsibility merit.  In other words, we can discuss any and all topics at length all the time.  Thanks, USC, for bringing us together.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

After lunch, we immediately jumped into data collection for our pilot study.  We met and talked to enigmatic undergraduate students who just seem to be stitched from a new millennium fabric less known to us older folks.  They seem so driven, socially conscious, and cosmopolitan compared to us as our 18-22 year old selves.  We each collected survey and interview data for five undergraduate students about USC’s value-add for preparing them for success in their careers.  I didn’t read everyone’s data yet, but my people were very pleased with USC’s career services, course content, and professorial knowledge and support and how these resources are preparing them for life in the competitive and cooperative 21st-century marketplace.

1:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Another delightful treat that we enjoyed today that we may not enjoy every day was our CEO guest speaker from Project Lead the Way, Dr. Vince Bertram. PLTW is an education nonprofit that specializes in pre-engineering curriculum for illuminating kids to careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.  Dr. Bertram shared his email address and promised to send us a copy of his previous and newly published book. While we wrapped up with him, Hue, our technology expert, provided individual support to students regarding the transcription software.  Most classmates use Apple products, but a few of us (including me) use Android and Microsoft products, so we needed a different audio converter program.

Here is the website of Dr. Bertram’s organization: www.pltw.org

4:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Class has ended for the day, so it was go time for transcribing our interview questions. Some students remained with Hue, while others retreated to their Radisson hotel rooms to complete the transcription on their own terms.  Because we didn’t get enough snacks (kidding), I consumed some potato chips and fruit snacks.  It might not have been the best selection, but the chips contained sea salt (that’s healthy, right?) and the fruit snacks were made with real fruit juice (albeit a microscopic quantity, I am sure).  I finished transcribing five interviews, which was more challenging than I had expected because the software I was using did not transcribe the words verbatim.  After talking to some colleagues, we found it to be helpful and more rapid to simply transcribe through listening to the audio and typing along.

6:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Tonight contained a special social and cultural treat.  Tim coordinated for our cohort to have relatively inexpensive (top row in the upper deck!) tickets to the L.A. Clippers vs. Utah Jazz NBA playoff game at the Staples Center.  Nearly the whole cohort cohesively enjoyed a night out watching the Clippers beat the Jazz in game 2 of the first round of playoffs.  One special treat for me was seeing comedian Kevin Hart on the big screen because he was seated in courtside seats.  “Here’s your problem, I’ll tell you what your problem is,” (in Kevin Hart voice, snapping fingers).  Tadios gave some of us a ride back to the Radisson, while Frank, Tim, Emon, Paulo, Brittany, and Christian found an Uber or Lyft ride back; at least that is what we suspected.  I think some of them ate Lili’s leftover pizza when they arrived back to the hotel.  Brittany is 8+ months pregnant and Frank doesn’t have a bedtime.

Clippers Game

Staples Center

10:30 p.m.

Each of us retreated to our own respective rooms to finish up whichever assignments we didn’t yet complete for tomorrow’s classes.  Chrissy noted her transcriptions and Emon talked about how he needed to finish converting Chapters 2 and 3 KMO tables.  I hope they get some sleep tonight!  

12:00 p.m.

I fell asleep writing this blog.  What a day!

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