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Countdown to Mother's Day: Day Twelve Lindsay Rustan

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.

Mother’s Day is closing in and today we have the pleasure of introducing Lindsay Rustan for Countdown to Mother’s Day at Doctoral Mom. Lindsay is a mother to five and her area of study is Educational Leadership at the University of South Florida.


What advice would you give to new mothers?

"Build a village. Have a community that supports and loves you."

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

"Watching my kids feeling safe enough to let their guard down. I’m a foster mom to teenage kids. All my kids come to me from the foster care system for various reasons. Every kiddo comes to me with some form of trauma. Watching them move from always being on the defensive (to protect themselves) to being comfortable enough to be their true selves has been the absolute best part of my mothering journey. I have adopted four and have two current foster children."

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

"My community is the most important part. Being able to call upon others to help me love on my kids and show up when I cannot for various reasons. My kids are also super supportive and understanding. My son has pushed me to write on days I really don’t want to."

Walk us through your daily schedule.

"Wake up at 7:00am and get ready. Wake up my daughter so she can start getting ready. I then take my sons to school (my daughter prefers to walk). I drop my youngest off at his school and then take my other two to the school where I am a full-time teacher. I then teach for eight hours. Inevitably, I’m receiving phone calls from social workers, doctors, case managers, and a multitude of others while juggling my teaching schedule. During my lunch/conference break I’m generally interviewing for my dissertation or in some other meeting. At four o’clock I start pickups. I drop my daughter off at work, pick up my son and then drop him off at work. I get an hour break to make dinner, then it’s picking up my son from some sports practice (football/wrestling/etc.). I then go home and start my dissertation work. Once a week I meet with one of my committee members to check in and set goals. I then write/read until around ten o’clock where I do the final pickup for all the kiddos who were at work. Then I catch some z’s."

Doctoral Program

What was the most challenging part about starting your doctorate?

"Feeling as if I was good enough to be there. Convincing myself I could do it."

How did you choose your advisor and/or committee?

"Each one of my committee members hold a special place in my heart. My co-chairs are leads in my department and professors I have known since my master’s degree. My outside chair is my mentor, a woman who I’ve known since my undergrad, my Cuban mom, the voice of reason that keeps me grounded. My fourth member is a scholar in race and the best professor I’ve ever had. When I asked him to be a part of my committee, I was overjoyed that he agreed. He has since been an integral part of my success and continued growth."

What is/was your dissertation topic?

"Exclusionary discipline and the social emotional effects on Black students’ lived experiences."

What is the most difficult part of the dissertation process?

"The lack of a schedule or hard and fast rules/rubric. I understand why it’s open, but it can cause some lapses in motivation."

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

"I would have been cataloguing my resources from day one. I would’ve had a running list of citations."

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

"A lot of times I had to take time away to go to class or write/read. I spend at least a Saturday a month away from my kids and with my writing partner. Sometimes I miss swim meets or football games. My kids wholeheartedly get it though and will be my greatest cheerleaders when I walk across the stage."

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

"Create a large and wide community. Lean on your village and let them love on you and your kids. Take the help, there is no reward for being super mom. Take care of yourself and it’s ok to take breaks. It’s not a race."


Where are you in your career journey?

"I’m a teacher at a local high school. Not sure what steps I will take after I get my degree."

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