D162: Why “Good” is Never Good Enough for a Black Woman.

As a black woman born to poor immigrants, I don’t have the luxury of relying on “good enough,” I know my work is often inspected more critically. Marginalized identities cannot settle for “good enough” because the sad truth is—we’re taught to aim low. Thus, I’ve committed to Continue reading

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D155: Confronting the Awkward Truth – What Exactly is a PhD? And What Am I Getting Myself Into?

Stanford is a place of privilege. Quite the privilege at that. I am still learning how to navigate the breadth of resources, wealth, and influence, that I am surrounded by every day. I am still figuring out how to explain to my parents the people that I’m meeting and the opportunities that I now have–the kinds none of us knew would ever be possible.

I am also still discovering what a Ph.D. actually is and whether or not I still want one. I don’t have the luxury of asking my parents Continue reading

D115: Your Whole Life is the Sum of Your Relationships

Your entire life is the sum of your relationships.

Think about it.

I didn’t realize how monumental relationships truly were. I knew that I loved my family and that was the most important relationship that I had up until this point. I never considered that my life can be wholly represented by the relationships I build, maintain, break off–it’s a reflection of my volatility, Continue reading

D72: “Stanfording” While Black. Why Black Lives Matter Here Too.

BlackoutSU Aerial

Blackout at Stanford University’s White Plaza on November 18, 2015

I wouldn’t feel like a responsible African American blogger unless I also took the time to address much of the hysteria sweeping college campuses. In light of recent situations, protests, rallies, and demonstrations have been orchestrated by colleges across the country in support of campus reforms. With each passing day, I find myself more disturbed by the horrific accounts from people of color Continue reading

D55: START With the END in Mind

June 12th, 2020: “Abisola Kusimo is hooded by Professor (Blank Blank) in receipt of the Doctoral Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University” (crowd cheers on senselessly)

joyTHIS is where your graduate school thinking begins.

Okay, maybe it was a tad bit too dramatic, but this is where my mind often wanders when the pressure builds and my work piles. I want to be Abisola Kusimo, Ph.D. or Dr. Abisola Kusimo (if I like you) by 2020. Continue reading

D42: Why Fellowship Applications Should Be a 3-Credit Course

The weeks leading up to the 2015 NSF GRFP deadline were consumed by editing personal statements with a writing tutor, drafting research proposals with my advisors, and tracking down recommendation writers for the application. If this story resonates with you–if you even know what “NSF GRFP” stands for, then I’m sure you were in a similar situation (and if you don’t know what it is, you should probably copy and paste it into Google some time around now). Continue reading

D32: Major F.O.M.O.

I can hear it every evening from my second floor window. It’s out in the sun whenever I’m hunched over a computer cranking out a huge assignment. It’s in every hallway while I’m grinding through linear algebra proofs in office hours.

It’s “FUN.”

fun spongebob

And everyone else is having it.


So you’ve probably experienced this before. That everyone else is spending this weekend ending world hunger or partying in Vegas or having the time of their lives and you’re just doing homework. Again. Just like yesterday and the day before. F.O.M.O., also known as Continue reading

D20: Stay HUNGRY (Not Foolish)!

Confession: I came into grad school with absolutely no funding…not a dime to my name…you could hear echoes in my bank account (if you were small enough to fit inside of it in the first place).

no debt


Now, my story is not unique by any means. I had heard of all the fairytales about how STEM students don’t pay for advanced degrees (especially women and certainly minorities). Whelp, here I was! Continue reading

D8: Stanford “Duck” Syndrome (i.e. We Just LOOK Calm)

red-cross-158454_640Important Syndromes to get familiar with as a graduate student should you ever have to diagnose yourself: Barbie (see first post), Impostor, and Duck…”what’s ‘Duck Syndrome,'” you say? Ever seen a duck floating serenely on the water and wondered how it was able to remain so peaceful? Turns out, that poor little duck is probably paddling its heart away. Continue reading