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Countdown to Mother's Day: Day Two Monika Son

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


For day two of Countdown to Mother's Day, we would like to introduce you to Monika Son. Monica's area of study is education at Teach at CUNY. She is also a current chair and tenured assistant professor and mother of two.

Motherhood What advice would you give to new mothers?

"Give up on the idea of being perfect."


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

"Seeing my kids develop into amazing human beings."


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

"I started a meditation practice."


Walk us through your daily schedule.

"At 5 :45 I wake up, do some writing and reading then check on my kids. I do 20 min of yoga, 20 min of meditation, make breakfast for my dad and start my day around 10 am. I end the day around 4:30 or 5:00 pm and eat with my family. After, I clean up, do some writing, maybe another 10 minutes of meditation then go to bed around 10:30pm or earlier depending how tired I am. My schedule was different while I was in school, and the kids were little. I began my PHD in 2005, had them in 2007 and 2009, worked full time and took care of my mom. I finished in 2013. I hired a sitter, someone to clean and an aide to help with my mom. My husband did a lot of the cooking and still does. It took a lot for me to ask for help, get help and admit that I was exhausted. My meditation practice was key."


Doctoral Program What was the most challenging part about starting your doctorate?

"The loneliness of it, finding the pockets of time. That is hard to do daily and ask for help and support."


How did you choose your advisor and/or committee?

"I chose the person who I felt was most aligned with my values and who understood I had a life, and that life was also important to me."


What is/was your dissertation topic?

"Looking at narratives of success and how understanding of identity contributed to possible pathways young people were taking or exploring. I studied Dominican immigrants and intersections of gender, race, language, skin color, generation of immigration and undocumented/documented status."


What is the most difficult part of the dissertation process? Convincing myself that I was not an imposter that I belonged and deserved to strive for this goal.


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

"Start meditation at the beginning. I didn't come to it until 2011."


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

"Very challenging. Especially around the expectations of gender roles."


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

"If you want this, you can do it. Talk to your support team and make sure they are all in. Let them know it will be challenging for all of you. Then take it one day at a time. Really, there is no rush. Prioritize your joy and wellbeing. Start a practice that supports you building awareness and focus on the present moment, that reminds you of who you really are, without all the titles/roles you are to others, including being a mom. We are whole selves, and we want to integrate and embrace all that we are!"


Career Where are you in your career journey?

"Third year of serving as Chair/Director. Also taking my first sabbatical in 20 years next Fall and Spring. Is there anything else you want us to know? I think I have a lot to offer your network. I am also a trained embodied leadership coach and facilitator; I teach mediation and mindfulness and have been coaching BIPOC women for 3 years privately."


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