Fifth Anniversary Update: Irena Smith

December 20th, 2013

Since the publication of Mama, Ph.D., I have left higher education entirely to work full time as an independent college admissions consultant and to pursue freelance writing and editing on the side. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to have a job where I can set my own hours and call the shots, and I would love to see that kind of flexibility in higher education, although I realize that this is impossible for all kinds of reasons. And, on a bursting-with-pride note: my son Jordan, who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism during my first year as a post-graduate lecturer, and whose diagnosis made me rethink staying in academia (as well as everything I thought I knew), has graduated from high school (where he was a varsity wrestler all four years) and spent the summer working full-time as a lifeguard and started college life as a freshman at University of the Pacific this fall. Is he miraculously cured? Yes and no — but if there’s anything I learned from the past 18 years, it’s that there’s progress (toward a dissertation, toward full dilation, toward tenure), and then there’s progress that puts a lump in your throat and makes you believe in miracles.