Wednesday, November 5, 2008



On Monday I defended my dissertation from the insightful, informative banter of my noble committee all of whom were in town for the first day since May. They signed the paper. Three signatures = PhD. No longer quite so piled higher and deeper, I am now a PHony Doctor!

I still need to reformat the dissertation and fix a few minor points before turning it in, at which point Cornell will acknowledge the prefixed title:

Dr. Derrill D. Watson II

I like it.

One of the best parts was calling Grammy (my namesake's wife). Her joyous congratulations and tears really made it special. Joy was a big help, also, making the presentation go off well. She has been such a support these last 5 years, particularly with her never-flagging confidence and encouragement. I'm very glad that in NY, a spouse gets half of the degree the other one earns. She deserves it.
So there I am all happy and stuff, and decide to spend a few minutes finishing up my scripture reading. I had only had time to read in the Bible in the morning, so I opened up the Book of Mormon and for my very first few verses as a newly minted PhD read the following:

"Whoso knocketh, to him will he [God] open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches -- yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them." (2nd Nephi 9:42)

Hm. (long pause)

I'd noticed that verse many times on my path here, but it never struck before how powerful that wording is. You now have the dissertation in hand, and are you willing to cast it away? To plead with Him for guidance and protection and insight every day just like you did in trying to get those three signatures? To trust His Spirit and His servants, the prophets and apostles, even if something they say goes against the principles of economics you cherish? To remind yourself that research involves learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing, and that you have only begun to learn some things about nothing? To acknowledge His infinitely superior wisdom and unsurpassable knowledge of everything about everything? To put that into practice with how I treat His other children, particularly when I leave the confines of Ithaca and become in all likelihood one of very few over-educated people in my ward?

And that if I don't, that I will be someone God despises? He doesn't use that word often to describe His relation to us. ... Probably something deserving some more thought.


Joy said...

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your "Victory". I am so happy for the past and the future. I am glad that I could walk part of your school road with you and that our paths have become inseparable. I love you Derrill. You are the man that Heavenly Father intends for you to be. I am so thankful for your love of the Savior and desire for learning. Thank you for believing in me. Feel the love!

Ally said...

Congratulations to all of you--and your post was so full of humility and perspective, too. You are all headed for (even more) great things.

Derrin Watson said...

My son, my friend,

It never hurts us all to remember what matters most. Thank you for that perspective. And now .....

YOU ROCK, DUDE! Congratulations! You've surely worked hard for this day. Give 'em heaven!


Grandma Jule said...

But, my dear, you've forgotten the other half of the coin!

Remember? "To be learned is GOOD if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Ne 9:29.

And "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the owrld to come." (D&C 130:18-19)

Desi said...

The spouse gets half the degree? That sounds nice, so by the time Rick finishes this second MS, I'll have an MS too! That is one great thing about education, you really do get to build up and help those around you - and those close to us really help us make the schooling possible.

I like that scripture. It sounds like it did have some new insights!

Congratulations on your PhD! It took a lot of work and sweat and time, and you have always been going great places, this just opens more paths to you!