Until recently, I hadn’t returned to the location of my grad school years since finishing my dissertation and starting my job. Because I still have some good friends in the program, the trip was part reunion and part nostalgia. As friends graduate and faculty retire, I’m sure that this feeling won’t be present in many future trips, but I was surprised to see that almost nothing on campus had changed. I was most surprised, though, by the differences in my interactions with faculty. I am not sure if the difference was due to my own increased self-confidence upon returning after a year and a half as a successful faculty member, a greater recognition that I was an equal on the part of faculty, or some combination of the two (perhaps it was just the fact that the last time I was there I was just coming out of the foggy dissertation netherworld…).
The most bizarre of these encounters involved a faculty member that I have had some differences with in the distant past. In one day on campus I am fairly certain that I talked to her more than I had in the final four years of my graduate career. This is the same faculty member that had wondered what was wrong with me in my first year. It is possible that she may look at my job at an unknown school and think that I could have done better if I had only listened to her advice. My hope, however, is that she looks at the fact that I have the type of success that I wanted and considers that she may have been wrong. Regardless, interactions such as these reminded me that I have come a long way since the beginning of my graduate career.