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Countdown to Mother's Day: Day Fourteen Rikell Ford

In honor of Mother's Day, Doctoral Mom would like to introduce you to the amazing women that make up the Doctoral Mom group. Join us as we listen to their advice and stories.

Today’s Countdown to Mother’s Day featured mom is Rikell Ford from Point Park University. Rikell is a mother to one and her area of study is community Engagement.


What advice would you give to new mothers?

There is no handbook to being a mother. Sometimes you have to deviate from the norm.

What is your favorite part of being a mother? Can you give us a specific example?

"My favorite part of being a mother is empowering my daughter to see her worth. When my daughter was about five years old, we created an affirmation which she proclaimed daily. Almost nine years later, I get excited to hear her proclaim to others who she is based on her affirmation."

How did you manage juggling the various aspects of motherhood while working and pursuing your doctorate?

"I just did it. I always made sure that I was present for my daughter's moments. If it took taking my laptop and/or flyers with me to competitions and games, when it came to a performance, I made sure she had all my attention. Also planning uninterrupted time. In all transparency, when it got closer to finishing my dissertation, I found myself less engaged in the household, often letting my daughter get away with murder. I would say it is a balancing act. If you have supports do not be afraid to use them. You are doing the best you can do in this time."

Walk us through your daily schedule.

"Wake up between 5am and 6am. Pray and read the bible or devotion. Get myself dressed and wake up my daughter between 6:30am and 7am. At 8:00am I drop my daughter off at school. From 8:45am-4:45pm I work. Sometimes I work on my dissertation during lunch 12-1pm. At 5:30pm I arrive home, walk the dog, and find something to eat. From 6:30-7:30pm I talk to my daughter and go over our day. Then from 8-9pm I prepare for the next day. From 10-3:30am I write. Some days, like today, I have to take a nap to make up for sleep loss."

Doctoral Program

What was the most challenging part about starting your doctorate?

"I did not have any challenges."

How did you choose your advisor and/or committee?

"I chose someone who would push me to do my best work. I know the importance of the research that I am doing and needed someone who will make sure I had a good dissertation and not a done dissertation."

What is/was your dissertation topic?

'Navigating Systems: A Narrative Inquiry of Black Women’s Lives in Foster Care and Education Systems."

What is the most difficult part of the dissertation process?

"Late night/early mornings and choosing the writing process over life."

If you could do something over, what would it be?

"The way I approached my review of the literature. I highlighted my documents and did not initially write an annotated bibliography."

How did the program impact your relationships (romantic, family, friendships, etc.)?

"My friends and family pushed me to do my work. There were times where they would have plans and intentionally not invite me because they wanted me to complete my work."

What tips do you have that might make it easier for mothers who are thinking about pursuing their doctorate?

"Do not have mother's guilt. You are being a role model to your child. They see you and appreciate everything that you are doing."


Where are you in your career journey?

"I am a supervisor for a large, innovative, child welfare agency."

What were your biggest struggles and how was Doctoral Mom Incorporated helpful to you?

'Locating literature significant to my research. My research is heavily based on social work. My university does not subscribe to any social work journals. This group was helpful with helping me to get the literature I needed quickly."

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