One Step Closer: A Ph.D. update

As the month of September came to an end, so did Cristina’s preparation time for the written exams on her Ph.D. in Communications. 

The written exams were scheduled for Friday, October 3 from 10am to 12pm and from 1pm to 3pm.  When I took my comprehensive in January and February of last year, I had to study for seven different sections within my program.  I passed five and failed two.  Therefore, I was only studying for the two sections I failed. 

A tired Cristina Meier prepares to take her written exams with coffee in hand to stay awake.

A tired Cristina Meier prepares to take her written exams with coffee in hand to stay awake.

I talked to my professors on Tuesday, September 29 (which also happened to be my birthday) and they gave me a proverbial kick in the pants to get me motivated in the right direction during my final days of study.

Somehow, I managed to get everything that I had crammed into my head, during my study hours, down on paper.  Two weeks after my written exams, I had an oral examination scheduled.  I was to get a conference call on Friday, October 16 at 2:30pm.

I was so nervous that day. I had already begun to start planning for my options if I did fail this exam.  When my professor called 15 minutes late, I had already told my proctor that he should go do something else and I would call him when the examination began.  So, I asked my professor to wait a second for me to get my proctor.

“Oh, you don’t need your proctor,” my professor told me. 

“What?  Why don’t I need my proctor.”

“Because you passed.”

I almost passed OUT right then and there.

“Really?  Are you just teasing me or are you being real?”

He was serious.  He told me that my written exams were so much better than last semester that he really didn’t need to ask me anything else.

However, my other two teachers wanted to ask me some questions, so they tortured me for the next 20 minutes before they agreed that I had passed my qualifying exams and I could now officially begin writing my dissertation.

This has been a huge milestone for me.  I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me (especially if I want to graduate in May of 2010), but I’m so glad that I overcame this hurdle.  I am looking forward to working with my advisor on my dissertation topic of studying the ‘third-culture’ kid of the 21st century.

August Prayer Requests

We have a few prayer requests as we wrap up our summer months and prepare for a new school year at the Alliance Academy International.  Please be in prayer with us for the following situations:

1) Stephen’s Intensive Spanish Classes – That Stephen will get the most he can out of a three week intensive class in Spanish.  After finishing one week of classes, Stephen has felt challenged in taking in and retaining the mountain of language that is being thrown at him each day. 

2) Cristina’s Ph.D. program – That Cristina will continue to be motivated as she comes into her final year in the program.  She needs to retake two parts of her comprehensive exams in the fall, as well as work on the first three chapters of her dissertation so that she can defense her “dissertation proposal” in the fall.  If she passes this defense, she will be able to finish writing her proposal and possibly graduate in May of 2010.

3) Renewing Our Visas – That the process will take place quickly and that we might be able to obtain Ecuadorian residency.  We are in the process of renewing our yearly missionary visas for the family.  We had managed to get Luke’s Ecuadorian citizenship (because he was born in Ecuador) and his paperwork was completed before we went to the U.S., but we were running late in obtaining missionary visas for the rest of the family.  We were told to return to the country under tourists visas so we could get the visas renewed after we returned.  As of now, the school’s lawyer has all our passports and legal documents to see if it might be possible for us to obtain Ecuadorian residency based on the fact that we have a son who is an Ecuadorian citizen.  If we do obtain residency, we no longer have to obtain a missionary visa every one or two years, but would be able to pay a one time fee for being a resident of the country.

4) The RE-scheduling of the 2009-2010 school year – That the administrators will be able to make wise decisions that include the recent changes in the scheduling of school days. In past years, the Alliance Academy had started their school year in mid to late August.  However, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education informed the school this summer that they were not allowed to begin the school year before the first Monday of September.  Therefore, the first day of school is being moved to September 7th.  Recently, they’ve also expressed to the school that they are required to have 200 school days, of which 190 days must be “educational.”  This has the potential of increasing the school year for two solid weeks. Be in prayer for our scheduling team as they work out all the details.

Cristina’s Qualifying Exams Results

     After taking my written exams for my Ph.D. in Communication from Regent University on January 29-30, I had three weeks to review my material and prepare for the oral defense on February 17th. Meanwhile, I was still busy adjusting to being a mom of two without having the help of my mother. 
I realize the big question on everyone’s minds is, “Did you pass?”
     I have to answer both “yes” and “no.”  Let me explain.
     When the day finally arrived for me to take the test, I was both tired and mentally exhausted.  But I thought I was prepared to answer the questions of my professors. 
The exam took place in the director’s office at the school, so that my professors at Regent University could take advantage of the Vonage phone number, which would ring as if we were located in New York and not cost them a huge international long distance fee. It was a conference call from 10am to 12 noon.  I sat on one end of the line while my four professors sat at the other end on a speaker phone. 
Regardless of the time I spent preparing, I immediately became nervous and my mind blanked out at the first question asked of me.  I spent the next two hours trembling through each question and the responses I was giving and feeling completely unnerved.
     At the end of the two hours, I was extremely drained and did not feel that I had done well at all.  The professors bid me farewell to discuss the results of my examination.
     My advisor called me back to give me both “good news and bad news.”  I had done well enough to pass five of the seven segments of the test.  Therefore, I was deemed competent in approximately 71% of my qualifying exams.  BUT…I did not meet their expectations in responding to questions on qualitative research methods or in advanced communication theory.  Therefore, I would be required to take those two portions of the qualifying exam over again in October of 2009 (when the next qualifying exams are made available).
     So, “yes,” I did pass a significant portion of my exams and will not have to retake those sections.  However, “no,” I did not pass the exams entirely.  My transcript for the spring semester will show that I have not passed my exams and that I will need to retake them before I can continue with the process of finishing my doctorate degree.
     However, my professor did tell me that I could begin doing the research needed to present the proposal for my dissertation in the fall semester.  And I would have the rest of the spring and summer semesters to work on that and to study for the two portions of the exam that I will need to retake in October.

February Notes

Date: March 3, 2009
Location: Quito, Ecuador

It is hard to believe that the month of March is already here.  It makes one sit back and wonder where the first two months of the year disappeared. Here in Quito, Ecuador, the “MK Meier Family” has remained busy and productive.  We finally found renters for our townhouse.  Our new tenant and her two cats are scheduled to move in March 2009.


Here are some of the highlights for this month:


*Jared’s vocabulary is expanding by leaps and bounds

*Luke just might be ready to sleep through the night

*Cristina is officially through with the spring’s qualifying exams for her Ph.D. The question is…”Did she pass?”
*The twists and turns to getting citizenships established for an international newborn in Quito, Ecuador

*Stephen races to become a “hero”

*Stephen was also able to use his frequent flier miles to schedule a trip to the U.S. at the end of April to visit some potential schools who are interested in hiring him next school year.
*Observations of a week of Spiritual Emphasis at AAI
*What it means to honor the country flag in Ecuador

*Cristina learned how to take care of a “bumble bee free loader”


These stories and more are listed on the different pages of our blog.  We invite you to read through them.