Being the Mentor She Should Have Had with Dr. Janice Weaver

Janice Weaver, Ph.D. is an experienced communicator and has used that ability to encourage, validate, and support people who are striving to discover their untapped potential. She has worked with people of all ages as a professional counselor and group facilitator. Dr. Weaver has been invited to speak on multiple occasions at a local college psychology honor society to share her expertise of how the knowledge of psychology can increase one’s understanding of human behavior.

Dr. Weaver’s passion is using her doctorate to expand her influence in supporting, encouraging, and guiding other doctoral students. She serves as an adjunct dissertation chair where she is committed to using her experiences and knowledge to expand her influence to her students, and the larger public, with the goal of assisting students to finish the grueling dissertation process, and earn their doctorate so they can better their lives, and the lives of others.



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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Learning to write scientifically
  • A strategic, results-oriented approach to starting your dissertation
  • The importance of having logistical and emotional support
  • How a failure to plan can derail a dissertation
  • Using your dissertation as therapeutic relief when life gets tough
  • The case for not being passionate about your dissertation topic

In this episode…

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Janice Weaver reveals to Dr. Russell Strickland how her struggles with her dissertation chair motivated her to become the dissertation chair she wishes she had during her own doctoral journey. The Drs. discuss the critical importance of having both logistical and emotional support for your dissertation. Dr. Weaver stresses how risky it can be to begin your dissertation without a detailed completion plan. Of course, life poses a myriad of risks which do not abate simply because one is pursing a doctoral degree. Dr. Weaver makes the case for the therapeutic benefits of the dissertation to cope with life’s greatest challenges.

Dr. Weaver’s unique perspective as a recent doctoral graduate and a current dissertation chair could be just the advantage you need to Get Your Dissertation Done!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro [00:00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host, astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach and more, Dr Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:00:29]

Hi, this is your host, Dr. Russell Strickland, and welcome to An Unconventional Life podcast. Today I have with me Dr. Janice Weaver. And Dr. Janice Weaver is going to be such a great guest today because she knows what it’s like on both sides of the dissertation chair divide. She graduated from Grand Canyon University and then went on to serve as one of the dissertation chairs there in addition to her continued work in education. So Dr. Weaver is going to be an outstanding guest with us and she’s going to tell us what the biggest hurdle for her in overcoming that she had to overcome in order to earn her degree and what the biggest assistance was that she got in that process. So you’ll want to stay tuned for that before we get started. This this episode, as usual, brought to you by Dissertation Done. If you’re working on your dissertation, whether you’re getting ready to start, you’ve been working on it for a long time. You might be struggling, stalled or just plain stuck. Reach out to a We’ll help you get on the Fast Track to Graduation, finishing your dissertation in years less than than you might have thought possible. So reach out to us at Now, if by any chance you’ve already graduated and you’re an expert in your out there and you want to serve your audience at a higher level, why don’t you consider Expanding Your Authority platform by joining us to write and publish your own book? We’ll take you from the blank page all the way through to having your book up on Amazon and you can download it or order that paperback copy. It’s a great way to Expand Your Authority and it becomes a calling card for you. I mean, what better expert can you be than someone who has a doctoral degree and someone who literally wrote the book on the thing that you use to help other people? So visit us at to find out more about that. But I’d like to introduce you now to Dr. Janice Weaver. Dr. Weaver, thank you so much for joining us here today. How are you?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:02:30]

I’m fine. Thank you for having me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:02:33]

Awesome. I bet you’re quite welcome. And as I said, I know our audience is going to be thrilled to find out how it how it is working on both sides of the aisle as far as the dissertation committee. But what I’d like to do before we get there is kind of talk about what was going on in your life and what was going on in your head that made you decide, hey, I’m going to go enroll in a doctoral degree program. Most of us here have made that decision and those people out there don’t. So what was it that prompted you to decide to pursue your doctoral degree?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:03:08]

Well, at the time it was in two thousand twelve. I was a professional counselor at a residential facility, and I realized at the time that I really wanted to teach and I really wanted to study more in depth the subject of psychology and understand human behavior from the background and the history of psychology. So there are some colleagues around me who said, you know, I want to get my Ph.D. And I wasn’t thinking that far. I was thinking maybe I would get another master’s degree. But the Ph.D., I was very interested in it because it involved research and research always interested me. And so I decided to call Grand Canyon University and there was a enrollment specialist and he really showed me the benefits of earning a Ph.D. Yeah. So it took me a little bit of time because I’ve known all along is something that you have to be in it for the long haul. I really didn’t know all that was involved, but maybe if I had, I might have not gone.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:04:35]

I had a kind of a similar journey. Folks that have been listening to the podcast for a while probably heard me say this before, but I went through graduate school tradition initially as a traditional doctoral student. And of course, here at An Unconventional Life, we talk about the traditional doctoral student and the unconventional doctoral student, with the latter being adults that returned to school while still working full time and having a family and a mortgage and all of those sorts of adult responsibilities. The traditional student is the one that goes from high school to college to grad school, just going on into the academic career path. And and I admit, I did that initially and not long before I was set to graduate, my advisor died very unexpectedly, was in a plane crash, and I had to do some some taking stock and some. Deciding do I want to continue to be a poor graduate student, literally working like one hundred or one hundred hours a week and bringing home like fourteen thousand a year or something to set foot in this real adult world, leave school for a little while? And so I made that decision. But ultimately, I got called back into into school and I had to decide, well, do I want to get a master’s degree in business? Because that’s the direction my career had headed versus the master’s degree. Should I go back and pursue that doctoral degree? And I, I kind of decided, well, I don’t know. The two master’s degrees is a whole lot better than one. But a dotoral degree is.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:06:07]

Yeah that’s it was erm I thought well I can handle a master’s degree because I have one desire and it’s a different experience.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:06:17]

So. So you decided to take the plunge. One of our one of our recent guests said that if you live fearlessly then you can live limitlessly, which I really like that that little quote. So you brush the fear aside and you take the plunge into the doctoral degree program. And what was it like as you started taking those classes?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:06:39]

Well, it involved a lot of writing. And I remember my first class and I like to write in prose, know I like to express things with adjectives, verbs and not always be so concise. So the first paper I submitted, my professor was so confused. She called me and said, Janice, what is going on? You know, because she I didn’t know how to write scientifically. Right. Which and I never knew about scientific writing. And so I said, oh, is that what I have to do? And she said, yes, I had to bring in another professor to understand your paper because it was all in prose. It wasn’t scientific. Right. So once she explained to me what I needed, I had to learn to write scientifically. Very more concise, precise.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:07:46]

Yes. My first published paper I wrote when I was an undergrad and and I was reading all of these research papers while I was doing my work. And I kept telling my advisor at the time was like, these guys all seem like they’re geniuses. Yeah. You know, that can’t be just in the end he said he said, what do you mean? It’s like, well, because when I’m doing the stuff, I keep making mistakes and I try something and it doesn’t work. Yeah. And he’s like, well that’s what everybody does. I’m like, why don’t they write like that then? Because I feel bad and stuff wrong and and he endulged me. He let me write my first research paper that way, although he had already admonished me against it. But then when I wrote something about something I had tried and failed, it’s like, yeah, I just picked this up and I read these three paragraphs and then I put your paper down like. Well, you get the wrong answer. He’s like, yeah. He’s like how many people do you think might do that? I’m like, oh.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:08:49]

Yes, that was the most frustrating process for me, is that I, I was doing my very best and then and then all this feedback and I’m thinking, oh, it’s going to take me forever.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:04]

The nice thing about this is it’s much more concise, right. It’s actually much easier to do when you just have to that that’s that. That’s what you’re right. You’ll tell the story. Just tell us what happened.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:09:16]

Get to the point. Just the facts.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:19]

Exactly. But, yeah, I did. I definitely went through that journey of saying, no, I don’t like it.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:09:26]

It’s so frustrating.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:28]

And I eventually discover that, no, this is how you you have to write clearly said, oh, yes, you’re. Don’t put yourself in a position of they’re telling you a story at a cocktail party and yes, it looks like they’re going to take the right of they’re trying to teach you what they need from the project. And that really helped me a lot.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:09:49]

Yeah, yeah. I could see.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:51]

How would you have class classes? The very first foray into scientific writing was a little difficult. How did how did things go after that? After you kind of got a handle on that style?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:10:05]

Well, I I started to really enjoy the classes now keep in mind that these were a week one course for eight weeks. Right. And it was pretty intense, but it was the idea of learning to write, learning how to read scholarly articles and compare and contrast them. And I never read journal articles. That wasn’t my thing. Right. So, I mean, so here I am trying to understand journal articles that are written in scientific language and compare and contrast them so that I learn how to do that when the time comes for my dissertation. So it was not only the material in the classes that that I learned a lot from that, but the writing part they still had to work on with me because it’s a very long process to get it to get used to that type of writing and also the process of of not getting frustration. Get the best of me when they would say, well, here and here’s the feedback you need, the changes you need to change that.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:25]

Well that’s good practice for the dissertation, right?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:11:28]

Yeah. Yeah. Well, the thing is, I believe I was in a new program at GCU and so I was kind of like out there with not much else. And well, with the courses, you have a lot of discussion questions and with other students. And that’s part of online learning. And but but I had to learn how to use all the databases they had. I mean, you have to learn how to use search terms and so much. It was foreign to me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:12:03]

Yeah, well, listen, it is an interesting perspective because so many of our students say that, you know, when I went to when I went back to to enroll in my doctoral program, the classes were easy. Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly what I was used to. It’s when that dissertation comes up. Oh, so many folks hit the wall, but there was a transition. There was a there were some growth in the in the classes as well.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:12:29]

Yeah, I’d say so. Yeah. And believe it or not, I mean I find statistics statistics class because they used SPSS, which is a statistical package software and I love use learning software imed and so they would give us assignments to use SPSS and get the answers. And actually it sounds very strange because I had a terrible fear of statistics before I was I went into undergraduate school. I hear that everybody and you know, when I think here I love doing statistics, I’m thinking, what in the world happened to me? Yeah, that.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:13:12]

But that’s not like the common refrain. Most folks there are. I prayed to God that I would get out with that my A or B or whatever in there. And then we convince so many of them to do quantitative dissertations because it turns out that there are a lot well, they’re really faster and easier than the qualitative. Well, it’s interesting how many of our students we do get to to even if they swear off statistics, we’re like, well, if we help you with the statistics, will you consider a quantitative dissertation because it is so much quicker?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:13:49]

Well, one thing I did learn, it was a very hard lesson, as even though I had two doctoral level statistics classes did not prepare me for when I actually had to use my own data and analyze it and choose what type of analysis. That’s where I needed a lot of help. I see the classes did not prepare me for for my doing my type of research and and how you have to really know advanced statistics and so.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:14:22]

Well, so much of it begins with the research design though, if you. Yes. Plan out. Yes. Your project and how you’re going to collect data and the crime that you’re going to answer in such a way. Make sure that it’s relatively straightforward to do. That’s right. That’s right. A lot easier. We have so many students that tell us that their university tells them, come up with a question, something you’re passionate about. And I turn around and tell them, forget about all that. It’s doable. That’s the right. We come up with an answer. That’s the first thing we do is we build what we call the instant road map for your dissertation, because I want you punching your destination into the GPS as soon as possible. And that really is like. What am I going to do to collect and analyze data? Yeah, after you’ve done that, there’s still work to be done. Oh yeah. You’re basically guaranteed to graduate. I mean, I don’t know anyone who has collected and analyzed their data and then not graduated. Yeah, well, through a couple of people have made decisions to walk away, but that was life events. Right? They were completely in control of that decision. They didn’t flunk out or anything like that. Yeah, I know so many people that feel like there’s attrition or they’re just stuck and they can’t move anywhere before they get to that point. But once you give them what you’ve collected and analyzed your data, you’re home free. Oh, you start right from the beginning thinking about that process.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:15:50]

That’s that’s that’s true. And that that did not happen with me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:54]

Yeah. Well, a lot of that’s why it took longer at universities are not very results oriented in terms of graduate. I think you told me that you had a chair that didn’t really seem like it mattered whether you graduated or not to them now, is that right?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:16:12]

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:16:14]

So how did that make you feel? How did that color the experience that you felt like your chair didn’t really care?


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:16:21]

Oh, I was very discouraged. I became very discouraged. And I mean, it did not to the point where I was going to quit, but I felt very alone and I just felt so alone. And I thought, oh, my, I’m paying all this money. I guess I have to teach myself. And so I made up my mind. Well, if that’s the case, then I’ll have to teach myself off to buy books. I’ll have to get on the databases. I have to teach myself.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:16:52]

And we hear that a lot. I hear that a lot more. It’s terrible, particularly that notion of feeling alone. Oh, yeah. Because if you were a traditional student, if you were in your twenties and and you were at university working full time, there would be a lot of other students in your department. You would all have absolutely. That you would share. You’d be working on it all day long. And there’s a psychologist here, but there’s normative pressure in that case. Right? Everybody wants to be like everybody else or before.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:17:23]

And so you can ask questions and not feel like you’re imposing on the person.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:28]

Which is part of having a community and having that again. That normative, that normally the pressure of everybody’s doing things this way. Yes, you can go ask other people. You can rely on them emotionally. You can rely on them, logistically. What what do I do here? Which doctoral students just don’t have. They really do feel.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:17:51]

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. When she can give me feedback. I didn’t even know if my writing was if I was doing it correctly and I started to have very low self-esteem. I thought, oh this, this must be terrible. I mean, I’m not getting any comments date back. And it just I had a very hard time emotionally. Yeah. Wandering, doubting myself. I was starting to doubt myself and I thought, oh, no, I what have I gotten into? I mean, why can’t someone talk to me?


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:25]

For so many students, that is the first time they really ever have trouble in school. Yeah, well, remember back when they were maybe in middle or high school, they had some trouble, but many doctoral students kind of breezed through school, they breezed through college classes, no problem. But then when you hit that dissertation, oh, that’s so many people. And they have to wonder, is this it that I hit the ceiling because it’s what I’m capable of. Yeah. College up until this point. So is this it? Am I at my limit? Yeah, there’s no but but it does take some growth and some understanding of what you need to do and how you need to do it in order to make that.


Dr. Janice Weaver [00:19:05]

Well, you know, I started I was still in touch with the gentleman that talked me into the PhD, but he didn’t have a PhD. And I said to him, you know what? I said, I hope someday you have to suffer through this like I’m suffering. So, you know, you what you talked me into, I, I need to be one of my own and have one.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:19:28]

When she first contacted me, one of my students was telling me how she had told her, her husband the night before to shut the hell up. He didn’t know what he was talking about. And I was like, I think you’re calling the wrong person. She’s like, nope, says you’re the dissertation doctor. Really, this doesn’t sound like the dissertation doctor got a problem. She said, well, you know what he told me? And I said, OK, I’ll bite. What’s up? She said, he told me what? I know you’re smart enough. You can do this. And that’s what I told you that didn’t know he’s talking about. Right? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Yeah, but he. Didn’t know what you’re going through. That’s right, that’s right. He hasn’t been there himself, so that’s why it’s so important. We talked about this idea of normative pressure before to have people around you in your in your network and your support group that have been there before. It’s really right. Because when I told her at the end of that call, you know what, I think you got this. You can do this. She can tell me to shut the hell up. She said thank you. And he known her for like 20 some years. But that’s just the way it is. And it wasn’t. Yeah, she knew. She’s like, I’m not let my marriage suffer because of this issue. Without that, I want to handle the things that happen. But.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.