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How My Journey to Waist Length Hair Paralleled my Journey Through Harvard Graduate School

• Jun 4, 2013

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When you begin any journey you look towards your future goal, outline your objectives and decide the steps necessary to meet your goal. This is what I did 3 ½ years ago when I began my hair journey. There was another aspect of my hair journey that motivated me along the way. During this season of graduations and the commencement of new beginnings I’d like to share how my hair journey taught me unexpected lessons about other areas of my life.

I began my healthy hair journey at a time when I was rather frustrated with my hair. It had been 5 years since I went natural and my hair was at a stand still. It felt stuck and needed to change my approach to hair care. My hair wasn’t the only area of my life in which I felt stuck. Around the time that I decided to revamp my hair care regimen I found myself feeling uncertain about my future in graduate school. Like my hair progress, I felt uncomfortable and considered a drastic change.

I am not romantic about hair care. I don’t believe that there are life altering existential questions that result from retaining length or solving the issue of single strand knots. However, I do believe the lessons we learn from the simple and unexpected aspects of our lives can teach us lessons we can apply to more important areas of our lives. In changing my approach to hair care I learned to be more patient with my hair. When I saw that a change in method yielded valuable results it reminded me that my graduate education was a race of endurance and that even when I felt like giving up, consistency and perseverance were, in the long run, necessary to my ultimate success.

Perhaps one of ways my academic journey most closely paralleled my hair journey was the length goal I set for myself in the fall of 2009. I told myself that I hoped to reach waist length by the time I received my doctorate. Now, of course if I completed my degree more quickly than expected and didn’t reach my hair goal, well that would actually be a good thing. At the time I set the goal my graduation seemed a long way off so a goal that would take me 3 or 4 years to reach was realistic. As I twisted and tucked, moisturized and sealed my hair, I also analyzed data, drafted chapters and read books and articles. The longer my hair grew, the easier I found it to style it into a simple updo when I presented at conferences or interviewed for jobs. Over time I stopped stressing about hair growth and as I became more comfortable in my own skin, I grew more confident in my academic pursuits.

So often when we start a journey the end seems so far a way that we are tempted to give up before we begin. The passage of time, however, is inevitable and we can spend that time pursing our goals or wishing we had not given up.I started my graduate career just after college less than a year removed from my big chop. I wore ear length twists to first year theory seminars and cute puffs to the library. Years later, PhD in hand, I’ll be styling waist length as I stand in front of college undergraduates when I begin my next journey as a college professor. My hair journey, like my academic journey has been long and eventful. It is a journey that isn’t over but one that I am happy to reflect upon and share with you.

Has your hair journey coincided with major life events?

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31 Comments on "How My Journey to Waist Length Hair Paralleled my Journey Through Harvard Graduate School"

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Ernie Jackson

Congratulations Dr.! Your story was a good great morning read.


Wonderful story and journey. Great way to reflect on life. Thanks for sharing.


She’s such an inspiration, I pray I can have the same perseverance and endurance as I finish my next two years of undergrad and go to grad school.


This is beautifully written. I enjoyed reading it.

Love JAH

I totally agree with this essay, preservence is the key to achieving any and every goal.…congratulations Dr.! You’ve inspired another naturalista to aim higher and achieve more


Very inspiring indeed.
Well done and congratulations on both achievements.
All the best for the future.


Congratulations and more blessings on your future endeavours.


Congrats Dr. Geneice!!!! Beautifully written! You’re always an inspiration!


congratulations, geniece.


GBU what a great story!


Congratulations on the growth you have achieved in every area of your life.


Beautiful story Doctor and congratulations.


Wow this was an inspiring read! I am happy to know that there is one more professor of color that will teach and motivate our diverse leaders of the future!


CONGRATS ON YOUR COMPLETION OF GRAD SCHOOL!!! What a major accomplishment!! what did you get your doctorate in? I am in the process of looking at schools for my doctorate.…it feels like it is time to start that portion of my journey…not sure what I want to do it in yet..just know it is time.…I am so proud of you and find you to be such an inspiring woman!!!


congrats on reaching both of your goals!


I started my journey over in October 2013. I can retire in 5 years and I’m letting my hair grow to see how long it will get for 5 years and also taking better care of myself inside and out. I love it better this time.


Major congratulations to you and your many goals! I caught “Auntie” Oprah’s speech on YT and it was inspiring.

Nature Girl

Sista Doctor can educate your mind and give hair care advice. You better werk that PhD!


Congratulations on receiving your doctorate Geniece!

I notice I tend to cut my hair when I’m about to enter new phases of my life. Big chopped and went natural when I got engaged, and after I get married, plan on cutting my hair again. Even when I was relaxed, when I was ready for a change, I cut my hair. Spiritually, its a new beginning…

The Natural Haven

Lovely, I love seeing more and more PhDs in the natural world. I know the journey and it is worth every long night in the lab 🙂


GO ON, GIRL!!!!!, or should I say Dr. Geniece. Congratulations on your wonderful achievement! I really enjoyed reading this piece. Thanks so much for sharing.


Congrats! I know how hard it can get sometimes in a Ph.D. Program. Finished mine last year. On to new challenges!


I LOVE this story–perseverance and hard work pays off in every area of life. I follow Geniece’s Youtube channel and she has gorgeous hair and a beautiful spirit to match!


Very iniritational! BTW,.my name is,Jennice as well,with a different


Congratulations. 🙂 This is very inspirational. Congrats again!

This is such an inspiring story for me. I started my PhD program last August along with making a decision to wear my natural hair out at some point during this journey. I have been natural for about nine years now, but never wore my hair out. I would wrap it, put in sew ins, and twists (extensions). I slowly am coming to the realization that I want to be comfortable in my own skin. Part of this is wearing my hair out and celebrating it. I’m slowly getting there. This PhD journey is allowing me to learn so much… Read more »

I’d love to read more stories like this. Wonderful, inspirational article. It was about so much more than hair. Congratulations, Dr. Geniece!


I want to show my affection for your gsteroeiny supporting those people that must have assistance with your question. Your real commitment to getting the solution throughout turned out to be particularly good and have in every case empowered women like me to arrive at their pursuits. Your personal helpful report indicates a great deal to me and further more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from all of us.


Oh waw, this has just motivated me to go for it for my MA degree. And yes my hair journey, that spans 7 years as of november 2013, has coincided with some major life events that I don’t have time to outline here. Thank you for inspiring me and coming to the same realization I did: patience is key.

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