Monday, July 13, 2009


Last Friday, July 10, 2009, I successfully defended my Masters Thesis.

I had been SO nervous for about two weeks up until the day before my defence. That day I practiced one last time for Uta in the room I would be giving my presentation in. I made some minor changes to colours so that the images would show up better on the projector screen. Then I headed home, cleaned up the backyard for the gathering the next day, showered and crashed. I ended up sleeping from about 6:30 till 9:00 pm. I was just so exhausted from being nervous. When I woke up at 9:00 I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep at a decent time so I went into the kitchen and started cooking for lunch the next day. I went to bed around midnight and only had a bit of trouble falling asleep.

On Friday, I wasn't feeling as nervous. I knew everything was going to go well. A lot of friends sent me little notes and things wishing me good luck. I saved them so that I can print them out and stick them in the cover of my thesis once it's been bound. I went into the lab around 10:30 in order to set up and get ready for my 12:30 presentation time. I ran through my results one last time by myself. This was the hardest part to present clearly. My Nana and Papa showed up first. We chatted for a bit and then Dr. Woo (the department chair) and Doug came down to the room. Shortly after that everyone else showed up and it was time to roll.

My presentation went really well. I was relaxed and all of the words came out smoothly. The slides looked really nice too. I have to thank Emily who helped me on the design side of things back when I was preparing my presentation for CSEE. Several people from around the department came to see my talk. There were also a few from across the street, students I had TA'ed, one of my field assistants, Leandra, the only one still in town,, family, and friends, Nat, Andrew, Emily, Andrea, and Pete.

This is me near the end of the presentation. Jayme, my sister, is wearing the zebra print directly in front of the camera.

After the presentation everyone said I did a really great job. I still had to make it through my 2.5 hour oral exam, though. The exam went quite well. To be honest I had so much adrenaline going through me I can't completely remember the exam. Luckily the committee made a lot of notes for me and I'll be able to make changes to my thesis over the next few weeks before I have it bound. Once I had answered all of their questions I had to step outside while the committee chatted about whether I had passed. Jonathan Newman was also in the hallway. We talked about what I was up to next. I honestly don't know what I'll be doing once I return from my trip. I just feel like I need a break from school, but I also want to keep working in restoration ecology.

After everything was wrapped up, the exam committee told me I had passed. Uta and I drove back over to my house where family and friends were preparing lunch. Mom and Dad had also brought the pups all the way from Peterborough for my big day. They were happy playing with so many people and having so many treats. The food and drinks were great. We had (this is a very important part):

-sandwiches with big chiabatta buns, ham or turkey, egg salad, lettuce, cheese, tomato, mustard and mayo
-feta and peppers with pita chips I had baked the night before
-Andrew's coleslaw with raisins
-pickles and olives
-candy...sour patch kids, macaroons, and wine gums
-veggies and hummus
-gin punch I had made with Ontario cherries boiled in simple syrup, organic lemonade, and tonic water
-a mini keg Dad brought

Dessert was insane and it deserves it's own section.

-Emily made a strawberry pie and a raspberry custard tart with shortbread crust. For some reason I didn't have any pie on Friday, but there was some left so I sampled it last night and both were delicious.
-Mom and Dad brought a HUGE carrot cake that said Congratulations Cassandra and had a rainbow that was an inch thick with frosting.

There were also a few presents at the party. Nat brought me $40 Aussie dollars. Their money is very pretty. It's also waterproof because they spend so much time at the ocean. And I don't think you can rip it. It's made of some sort of very fine plastic, I think. Doug brought me Gleason and Cronquist, probably the best flora of the northeastern United States and our part of Canada. He also included the illustrated companion. We made good use of those books during our grad degrees and I hope I need them a lot in the future. He also gave me a really beautiful bowl made by Goldie Sherman, a local potter. It will fit right in at my house because I'm trying to collect an entire set of handmade pottery. Nana and Papa brought me $100 and a sweet card that said not to forget them while I travel. Paul made a little album of some of our favourite pictures from the past 4 years and a bunch of new ones he had taken of my plots this year. I haven't even had a chance to go out and see them, but I'll be doing that in the next few days. He burned me a copy of the entire series of The Wire. I've never seen this show, but his TV recommendations are always the best. Jayme gave me a picture frame and I put one of my grad photos in it. She also stuck in a hilarious fake graduation tattoo.

Emily, myself, Nat, Mike, Kelsey, and Andrew...just after everyone had left and I was getting ready to go:

By the end of all this I was absolutely exhausted. I drove home to Warsaw for the weekend with Mom, Dad, and the pups. The pups slept the whole way home. Here's Missy ready to go:

And Sammy:

Now I'm back in the lab and about to start making edits to my thesis. Once all this is finished I'll have them bound and I'm off on my adventure. So much to do in only five weeks!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cass,

    You are incredible. Reading your post made me smile. I wish I could've been in that room with the rest of "Team Cass", but you know how things go.