Ending journeys and celebration rituals

On March 27, 2012, I submitted my capstone research project for my master of public health program at the University of Washington School of Public Health (UW SPH). (My program is called Community Oriented Public Health Practice.) My research focusses on the effectiveness of Seattle emergency preparedness communications, what residents know about emergency preparedness, who they trust, and how well these outreach efforts are reaching vulnerable residents. I really enjoyed this project and enjoyed the many professional relationships I developed during the course of my research. I also greatly enjoyed sharing my research findings with the emergency preparedness community of greater King County on Feb. 16, 2012.

From what I was told, my research project was the earliest any project had been submitted ever (a full quarter early) to COPHP. And it was a project well received by the City of Seattle, with whom I worked and who have already published my reports to them on their web site (look for  SNAP Research – “Owens Report 1” and “Owens Report 2” at www.seattle.gov/emergency/publications/#s). I also have published copies of nearly all of my original research and papers submitted to the UW SPH. You can review and download my finished work.

However, being early means you can’t celebrate. It is “out of place,” as some rituals are tied closely to shared experiences, not individual ones. At my undergraduate school, Reed College, the culmination of the undergraduate thesis (required for all students) was a thesis thermometer in the hallway of the main administrative building that marked every thesis turned in. The ritual culminated in a massive parade and a fun weekend called Renn Fayre. I always thought the thesis was a somewhat onerous burden with little practical real-world applications (for me at least), but at least the school “got it” when it came to marking the end of a long and arduous journey in academia. I have my own ritual in mind for when I get my next diploma. It will be very very fun. I’ll do it somewhere in the woods, and I look forward to that event.

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