The scene is the “after-discussion” that followed the 2016 PROMISE Research Symposium. We were a group of women – black and hispanic, part of the STEM enterprise. Among us were tiers of mentors and mentees of different levels. We were sharing … there were questions, and answers. We were discussing our past academic wounds and healing, discussing future plans, and sharing strategies that kept and continue to keep us sane on the journey. The subject of song arose. We started talking about the songs of “dissertations past,” and songs of “dissertations yet to be defended.” There were memories of spirituals, gospel songs, inspirational songs, songs that we remembered from our parents and grandparents.
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round, turn me ’round, turn me ’round. Keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’, Walkin’ into freedom land.” (The Roots’ version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ6mhRZ8LjM)
“I don’t feel no ways tired. I’ve come to far from where I’ve started from. Nobody told me, the road would be easy. I don’t believe … He brought me this far … to leave me.” (James Cleveland version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cw75v2uqts)
“Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord.” (Ron Kenoly version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_Z0QSVF04)
Then, something extraordinary happened. Dr. Alexis Williams quietly said, “I used to make up my own songs.” We stopped, then asked the obvious question: “Really? Can you sing one?” Alexis gratefully complied, and here is her song … her dissertation song … her original “I need to make it through” song. This is her “I’m not alone song.” It’s her “I’m gonna make it anyhow” song.
Once she sang it, we began to sing it. It was catchy. It was inspiring. It made us feel good. We decided that it’s not just a song for dissertation completion. It’s a song for our journeys now. We may be on different paths, but we’re moving toward our goals. A song. A song to inspire us. Relax …. (I love it … this song is in my head.) Are you singing yet?
“Relax baby … God’s got your back. Relax baby, you are on the right track. The Lord will take your burden, and He is with you surely, so you don’t have to worry … you don’t have to worry … yeah.”
Alexis, thank you for sharing!