I define the years between first and fifth grade (and sometimes ’til eighth) as a kid’s “awkward years.” These are the years when every cute five-year-old suddenly transforms into a weird-looking or flat out ugly preteen. It’s primetime for buckteeth, acne, bad haircuts and poor wardrobe choices. I accentuated my awkwardness by crimping my hair for special occasions. Upon my request/temper tantrum, my mother would spend hours ironing tiny right angles into my derriere-length locks. On the first day of school, I would proudly show off her skills as an indication of coolness to my new classmates. I don’t recall anyone ever complimenting me, but I’m pretty sure they were impressed.
Sixth grade is a tough transition. Textbooks, lockers, deodorant… they’re big changes for everyone. The stresses of these changes are nothing compared to the pressure a middle-schooler faces to be a part of the “in” crowd. I wanted to be “in,” and, I knew from experience, classification started at the first impression. That’s why it was imperative that I wear my backpack correctly when walking into homeroom on the first day. One strap? Two, but really really loose? High and tight? I deliberated in front of the mirror for hours to resolve the almighty backpack-strap dilemma for my grand entrance. I ultimately chose the onesy as the coolest option. Unfortunately, my new classmates were too busy making fun of my crimped hair to notice the strap situation, and on the first day of middle school I was immediately discarded to the “out” crowd.
Now that I’m in grad school I don’t really worry about being “in” or “out.” I don’t care how I wear my backpack and I’m pretty sure others don’t either. I don’t throw tantrums about my hair and my crimper doesn’t get much action (on school days). But the first day at DMU was not devoid of nervous energy. My main concern was, “I hope these people are not intense.” Doctoral students have a reputation of being somber studyaholics. I am not somber nor am I a studyaholic and as I looked around the classroom at our initial meeting, I worried that there was no one like me in the D.P.T. class of 2011. Luckily my class doesn’t fit the doctoral stereotype.
If you’re at DMU and you hear a group rapping every word to Lonely Island’s greatest hit, they’re D.P.T. ’11. If you ever hear obnoxious chanting during a friendly intramural match, that’s D.P.T. ’11.
If you ever see a group of men playing basketball in the wellness center with cheerleading shorts on, that’s D.P.T. ’11.
If you ever see a group of guys who look like they’re having some kind of facial-hair-growing-contest, they are and they’re D.P.T. ’11. If you ever see a group of girls at a Wal-Mart dressed in ’80s garb getting portraits made, they’re D.P.T. ’11.
If you ever see Spencer Pratt roaming the halls, it’s probably not him, it’s a D.P.T. ’11.
Basically, if you ever meet someone and think to yourself, “Man, this person is awesome,” there’s a great chance he or she is a D.P.T. ’11.
When entering a new situation, everyone has some concern they will not find their place. I feel like I’ve found mine, and I’m so pleased it’s in the class of D.P.T. ’11.