Post-PhD: Reflections on Coming to Terms with the End of a Journey

  • Elisabeth Lean Frostburg State University
Keywords: lived experience, dissertation, doctorate, loss, closure, identity


This article is a narrative of my lived experience in coming to terms with the end of completing a doctorate in social work. I detail how what are assumed to be two happy occasions—defending a dissertation and graduating with a doctorate—left me with little cause for celebration. I share how both of these events instead culminated in a sense of loss surrounding my identity.

Author Biography

Elisabeth Lean, Frostburg State University

Elisabeth Lean, Ph.D. is an  Assistant Professor of Social Work at Frostburg State University.  Her research interests include homelessness among 18 to 24–year–olds, making a successful transition to adulthood, ethics in social work, and social work pedagogy.