By Sandra McNeill

DETROIT (WWJ) – Suzanne Walsh has done a lot in her 45 years. She has an MBA from Eastern Michigan University. She has worked at the University of Michigan, in public schools in New York, and even lived in Turkey.

But there’s one thing the Ann Arbor woman has wanted since she was about 16: to get her doctorate. Walsh said she just never knew what field to purse.

Flash forward to 2013. Walsh had a young daughter and had just gotten a divorce. She was at a crossroads. Walsh said she wondered, “What’s my next step? Here I am in my 40s. I always wanted to do my PhD. I have a young child.”

It took some courage, but Walsh applied and was accepted to the Anthropology program at Wayne State.

“It’s been a very important dream for me and has taken me so many years to even get to the point where I was not afraid to get my neck out there to even apply.”

Things are different now for Walsh than they were when she studied for her MBA.
“Being a single parent and attempting to earn a degree is a very challenging prospect,” said Walsh.

“I guess I must be crazy,” said Walsh. “If anyone in similar circumstances were to ask me ‘should I go get my PhD?’ I’d probably say, ‘No! Run away!'”

“It’s not just about doing school work. There’s a million other things that you need to do as a doctoral student. Like working on going to conferences and trying to publish papers … and various other things. It becomes really a full time job.”

Along the way, Walsh has learned to take it slowly. She takes fewer credits than other single students. “I actually feel more interested in what I’m doing now, so I care more. I want to put more time into it.”

Taking care of her body by working out is important, too.

Walsh said she also needs to make sure she has time for her eight-year-old daughter. “I bring her to the Department,” she said. “She’s come to the Archaeology lab…and she really appreciates being a part of this whole journey with me. And I think she’s kind of inspired at this point.”

Walsh received her Master’s Degree at Wayne State’s spring graduation ceremony at Ford Field. She said that will put her more than halfway to her dream.

“This is a wonderful Mother’s Day gift,” said Walsh. “And it’s a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for my child.”

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