The Grind: GFF’s (or Grad Friends Forever)

GFF’s help you get through The Grind.

Everyone has colleagues in graduate school, but every graduate student, especially in a doctoral program, needs to seek out a circle of GFF’s–or Grad Friends Forever. Colleagues are willing to pass along good information on the latest grant, fellowship and job posting. A GFF will do that, too. However, a GFF is also there to listen to you when you don’t get that grant, fellowship or job. A GFF will make you feel invincible when you don’t think you can get through the next seminar, dissertation defense or on-campus job interview. Moreover, tears are shared with GFF’s. I called a GFF when I was at a crucial point in finishing my dissertation, and my father unexpectedly landed in the hospital. I wore a brave face with my colleagues. I looked across the table at a GFF during my nerve-wrecking diss defense. My colleagues were no where to be found. I emailed and called GFF’s when I was ready to share about my pregnancies. I hid them for as long as possible with colleagues. Doctoral programs are long and hard. You’re going to need GFF’s to see you through.

In short, I’ve got lots of colleagues. I have a few GFF’s. Frankly, I don’t think I would have become an art historian without them. They live all over the place, from New Mexico to Tennessee to New Jersey to New Hampshire. I know I’ll always need colleagues. They will come and go depending on my job and location. No, you can’t advance in your career without colleagues. It’s impossible to advance in life without your GFF’s.

GFF's Kerry, Dorothy, Ann Gibson (advisor), Sarah, and Tanya ~ Nov. 2004
GFF's Kerry, Dorothy, Ann Gibson (advisor), Sarah, and Tanya ~ Nov. 2004

This photo was taken in 2004 when this set of GFFs — Me, Kerry Roeder, Dorothy Moss, Ann E. Gibson (my advisor), Sarah Powers, and Tanya Pohrt — were studying for our comprehensive exams. We were freaked out and worried. We passed. Seven years, ten kids and many grants, fellowships, and jobs later, we will all have our PhD’s by this summer! I’m planning to publish a more complete article about our friendship this year.

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