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  • Writer's pictureMilena Williamson


I started my PhD in January 2019, weathering a pandemic and countless other challenges along the way. I can pinpoint my start date, but when exactly did I finish my PhD? And what does it mean to be finished, when a project takes up so much of your mental and physical energy? (Yes, I can attest to the physical feats of a PhD, having carried many, many books from my flat to the library and back again).

Here are some of the moments when I might have finished my PhD…

Maybe I finished my PhD in September 2022, when I first submitted my thesis to my supervisors and to the university. Maybe I finished in October, when I immersed myself in other projects (hello Charm for Catching a Train, I’m looking at you!). Maybe in November when I prepared for and completed my viva. Or in December when I uploaded my embargoed PhD to the university research portal. Or in January when I received my official letter of completion from Queen’s University Belfast and my PhDone tote bag. Maybe I finished my PhD in February, when I got the final version of my thesis bound. And, you could argue, that I haven’t finished my PhD until I graduate in the late spring or early summer of this year…

A woman smiles and holds up a purple book which is her completed thesis
Here I am with my very purple thesis!

It’s hard to know for sure. I think the date of September 1st 2022 will always be a memorable day for me, when I first submitted my PhD a few minutes to midnight on a Thursday night. Something beginning (a new school year) and something ending (my graduate school experience?) just as the seasons were changing.

Maybe I take comfort in the drawn out ending of a PhD. It makes me feel like I grew into/out of one experience and into another. Now I have a fancy title in front of my name (I’m actually a Dr?). I work in publishing a few days per week. Maybe I’m not enrolled in a degree programme anymore, but I’m a student at heart (sorry if that’s cheesy) and I’m excited to find new ways to keep learning.

Sending love an ocean away!


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