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I want to be your supervisor! - Rovimar Serrano Gómez

I want to be your supervisor!

Rovimar Serrano Gómez


And there I was, again with a registration form, with that racing heart. A feeling equal to a child's excitement as the first day of school approaches. With newly purchased notebooks and pencils, awakening the indelible memory of the smell of the blank page. With the anguish of getting everything ready, so as not to be late for school. With that desire to see a room full of new faces. And with the firm idea of being more organized, and not leaving everything for the "last minute".


Well, this time it was different, already with more years in tow and without being able to run or shout with joy for this new challenge. Those actions of adults, which are limited to expressing themselves through the sincerity of words, from the impetus of the heart, from the existence of few limits. In short, I assumed my new doctoral passage with a few academic and work commitments to my credit. A recent position as a university lecturer, a specialization about to end and with that desire to eat the world. Who wouldn’t wish it? When you have the gallantry that youth gives.


I started my doctoral classes with the idea of going unnoticed. Neither arriving too early nor too late. Looking for a seat ... not so close to the professor, not so far.


But it turns out that at that level, there are very few students, and there was no way to be just a spectator. So, my first days were spent between fright and flight, trying to avoid the professors' questions ... impossible. But I managed to adapt and find the rhythm of the system.


The semesters passed and it was time to find a supervisor for the thesis. Why is that figure needed? I had some people in mind, but I was afraid to face that moment. That kind of ritual similar to "asking for the bride's hand." At the time, I remembered my master's supervisor, who said that the relationship of a tutor and his or her student was like a marriage: that if you became divorced along the way, it was the most terrible thing that could happen. Well, the investigation would be different and you would even have to start pursuing other paths.


My master's supervisor was a very busy man. I remember that we had appointments every 15 days and sometimes he could not take full advantage of the consultancies, due to his multiple occupations. I disliked that a little bit, because I would ask for permission at work to attend those consultancies. But I was faithful and stayed with him until the end. I fulfilled all that he was demanding of me: Chapter I ... Chapter 2 ... Chapter 3 ... Conclusions and Bibliography. I disciplined myself and finished my work.


In the end, when he saw everything finished, he checked my work exhaustively; he made suggestions; I accepted, corrected, and delivered. When I had to present, I did it impeccably and got a “First”, with the recommendation to publish. I was very happy and my supervisor was proud of me. I remember that he gave me a nice pen at the end of the defense of my MA thesis.


So, with those tips from my master's supervisor, I came to fear that "academic divorce" and that's why I had to choose that guide well. It would have to be someone special, who inspires confidence in me, who is responsible, cordial and serious with his investigations.
I thought of a colleague who was about to become a full professor, and whom I admired very much. In my department meetings she expressed herself in such a way that no one dared to contradict her; she had an ancestry full of illustrious people and a long list of achievements in the struggle for justice in the field of education in my country. For me she was the right person.


So, I built up my courage and asked her to be my tutor. But she said she couldn't. I felt that the world was falling apart. She told me that she still did not have full status as a professor and did not know when her status would end. Although I told her that we could wait, because I was barely developing the initial ideas of my research ... she didn't want to ... so I didn't insist and left my search for another time. Sometimes you don't have to search too much!


At that time a specialization in Telematics was nearing completion. All the training had been remote via Moodle and email. I was assigned a supervisor, just like my master's degree, and he communicated with me via email.


I didn´t know that professor, because he had never taught me. From time to time I would send him my work-in progress and he would make suggestions to me. I tried to keep up with this type of advice, but it was difficult for me due to the time between one and another response from the emails. I managed to finish, although it took a lot of effort. I don't even remember how many emails we shared. That was not meaningful for me.


The defense of the work was by videoconference; I managed to do well. But I think that the lack of having a longer exchange of communications, that went beyond the fact of fulfilling the requirement of the undergraduate work, did not help to establish a stronger and more committed relationship with that university.


And now in my doctorate, when it was already time to give the name of the supervisor to the program coordinator ... he appeared. What mysterious things does life have in store?


I confess that I admired him. His classes were brilliant for me. He had that imposing personality, that confidence in speaking that inspired respect. And at the end of a class he came up to me and said: - I want to be your supervisor!


I remember I almost fainted; I couldn't believe it, I thought it was a dream… I even trembled with emotion. That event was so wonderful for me, it was as if I was walking in a large green field full of flowers and the singing of birds everywhere.


I said yes ... And a wonderful path began for me ... for both of us.


He, a very sensitive man, paid attention to all the details of human behavior, and transmitted that to me. When we were having a coffee, he said to me: - You see that lady who is sitting there. What do you think she thinks? - That was irrelevant to me, because I was used to being practical, going straight to the heart of things and taking advantage of time. Well, he ... calmly described that context, managed to decipher that lady's behavior and, without saying any more, aroused in me a search for those small details that allowed me to make analogies with what I wanted to investigate. I confess that I am no longer the same!


I emailed him my thoughts, he responded quickly, and then called me on the phone for details and to make an appointment in his office. Added to that was the time for an afternoon coffee. With him I learned to enjoy coffee. We had long conversations in which he oriented me and gave me encouragement. He filled me with confidence, he believed in me.


He showered me with good books, had this great desire to help, total dedication. His books travelled back and forth from my house to work. I walked with that spark, my "Aufklärung". I plunged into a great lake of co-constructing knowledge.


I had a humanistic approach that allowed for flexibility and understanding of my creative process when approaching research. He was very patient, he listened very carefully, as if he were my therapist, he generated in me an extraordinary confidence; we were colleagues. He re-directed my path. I had found my oracle!


 And that's how I took courage and knew no fear of producing that text – my supervisor had helped me find a way to formally start my academic writing. With his diplomatic and elegant style, he showed me possible paths ... and there I was selecting the path ... and there he was, accompanying me. Ensuring every step. Waiting with utmost concern for my doubts and successes. He taught me to look at otherness with fresh eyes; we built a space for mutual learning. We grew together!


Today, after that great experience, I am surrounded by wonderful people. The green field became a meadow. My discussions transcended other steps and here I am, watering seeds.


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Latest Revision: 2021-03-26
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