Stories from the Pot of Gold! - Meet Dr Tamera Jenkins

 Tamera is fourth from the right

Tamera is fourth from the right

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr Tamera Jenkins on skype. She’s a lovely lady who lives in Kansas City, USA, who agreed for me to share her story of success as part of my series: ‘Stories from the pot of gold’! Everyday people, doing everyday things that are extraordinary for them!

Tamera studied a Doctorate at Griffith University in Brisbane and has only just returned home after a period of 4 years study here. The great news is, Tamera has successfully achieved what she set out to do! She has been awarded a Doctorate in Criminology ... congratulations Tamera!

Achieving a Doctorate is an exceptional accomplishment in its own right! But this story is extraordinary because Tamera is not necessarily someone you would expect to have a PhD. Her road to success has been both challenging and inspiring. I’d like to share some of that journey with you now!

Tamera was a typical suburban Mum living in Kansas City with her husband and children. She was a devoted wife and mother who made the decision to home school their children until they were ready to go to college. When this happened, she was at a point in her life when she suddenly had time on her hands. She could focus on herself!

Tamera had very mixed emotions and was at a loss what to do.  She said; “I had no vision in the beginning!” But she was encouraged by her family to speak with the Dean where her children went to college. He was impressed with her home-schooling skills and said she’d been a good teacher. He suggested further education! A degree!

Her family fully supported this, but initially Tamera didn’t like the idea. It would be a huge commitment! It would require hard work and dedication, and there was the issue of money! Financially she could only consider a course that received funding. Scholarships were available, but they required students to achieve near perfect grades and Tamera doubted her ability to do that.

Despite her fear and doubt, Tamera made a huge decision and she decided to go for it! There was just the slight issue of which degree to study, the University entrance exams and how to navigate the process of applying for a scholarship.

Criminology was not on her radar. She came across it by accident flicking through the pages of a course guide. Tamera basically shut her eyes, circled her finger across the courses available and opened her eyes when she stopped to see where it had landed. Criminology generated some interest so she sat the entry examinations for the university, applied for a scholarship and was amazed when she got approved.

So, Tamera was on her way! She finally had a goal in sight and she embarked on her studies with enthusiasm. She approached study like a job and studied 8am – 5pm. She said; “I may lack vision at times, but when I set myself on a trajectory I stick to it!”

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Tamera loved her studies and this combined with her disciplined study ethic paid off. Her grades met the requirements of the scholarship and she successfully graduated with a degree. Her family and friends were so supportive and proud. She said; “The professors were also a great support system and even today remain my mentors”.

So, Tamera had graduated, but she was faced with yet another challenge! What next! A friend suggested she continue on her academic path, but Tamera was faced with the same dilemma around money and where to study. This set Tamera on the next stage of her academic journey and Vancouver, where she managed to secure another scholarship. The Masters was for two years and meant a big upheaval for Tamera and her husband. But he totally supported his wife, so left his job and they upped sticks and headed to Canada.

While in Vancouver, Tamera heard a guest speaker talk about forgiving the person who had killed her family. This subject matter had a profound impact upon Tamera. She decided to focus her research on this topic, achieving her Masters in 2012. She then spent a year teaching at home before once again embarking on the next stage of her academic journey.

Tamera wanted to research the impact of forgiveness from an offender’s perspective. Another chance meeting with a friend in 2013 resulted in her exploring opportunities in Australia. A four-year PhD at the Criminology School of Griffith University was offered. But she was only able to take this up through receiving two scholarships.

So, once again, Tamera and her husband relocated and while in Brisbane he worked in Bunnings to help make ends meet. Tamera said; “He has been so supportive throughout and my PhD is as much his as it is mine”! … How wonderful is that!

You would think that Tamera lives life from a position of total Self-belief. But when I asked if she ever doubted herself, she said; “All along the way! I had constant doubt. I was overwhelmed that everyone believed in me and had faith in me. I believed this was misplaced! What if I fail and let them all down …  You never really get over that type of doubt, but you do learn to tune it out”.

This attitude to self-doubt and her resilience were severely put to the test 3 years into her PhD. Tamera found herself in a situation that could so easily have derailed her ambitions and shattered all the hard work and effort she had put in to her studies.  

It’s mid-2017! Tamera is close to finishing her PhD! She’s put her heart and soul in to her study! Money’s running out and she’s beginning to feel very home sick. She’s missing her Mum and children. But she could see the light at the end of tunnel. Tamera was just 6 months away from completing her dissertation. She knew she’d be reunited with her family in Kansas soon.

Tamera felt her research had gone well! She had completed key coding and analysis, and written two chapters. She was confident with her approach! But when she presented her draft work to the University supervisors, she was unprepared for their feedback. They kindly told her she had done it all wrong! Six months work was wiped out! Just like that! She said; “ I had failed to fully understand the depth and impact of the research I needed to write about! I was three years in and all that work was down the toilet!”

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This was her darkest hour! It was a terrible week of despair and sadness! She questioned everything! Crying through the words!  Screaming to go home and visit her family. But financially they couldn’t afford it and she said: “If I had gone home they’d have needed to drag me on to the plane back to Brisbane kicking and screaming!”

Tamera did a lot of soul searching and talked to peers and supervisors. They were a great support, but they could only comprehend her horror. But Tamera’s resilient nature began to shine through! She had made too much commitment to give up now! She resolved not to go back home until she had finished. Tamera said; “I couldn’t go back to America and tell people I’d quit! I told myself I may get to eighty, but I will get it done!”

Tamera had a short timeframe to redo her work. She basically had to start from square one. But her disciplined study ethic once again kicked in. She religiously woke at 4am everyday and was at University by 6am. Her day was planned out in terms of every detail, including meals.

She refocused and repurposed her research and when it was done, she had a piece of work that was much richer and deeper in meaning. She successfully presented her dissertation to the University at the end of 2017. The paper didn’t require any alterations, something unheard of in academic circles, and she was awarded her PhD. What a huge achievement against all the odds!

Tamera could so easily have just given up! But she didn’t! She persevered and her journey from Kansas suburban Mum to PhD is nothing short of amazing. It just goes to show that you can overcome fear and doubt, and with hard work and dedication you have the ability to achieve anything you want in life.

When I asked what inspires her, Tamera said; “I may not always know every step ahead of me.  But I have always had strong faith and understanding that I came with a purpose and this has been my inspiration.”

Tamera is a Grandmother and she is waiting for the next stage of her life to unveil itself. She feels her life journey has been guided in some way and believes her purpose is to work with offenders practically not theoretically.

Thank you, Tamera for sharing both your story and the photo of you and your family celebrating your success! I hope her story has inspired you to strive for your goals and dreams, as much as it has me! Please share her story because it may just bring a little inspiration to someone else you know. Also, if you’d like to share your own story of success, then I’d love to hear from you via email - dream@managemyrainbow.com.au 

If you haven’t yet done so, activate your Success Generator now! This will give you free access to my tools and strategies so you can set your goals and then make them happen. I also have useful tips that may help you overcome the Dream Breakers, such as self-doubt and stress.

Enjoy your journey until next time!

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