A Michigan student makes a skirt out of rejection letters she had received, helping her succeed in life. She wore the folded letters she had received over the last five years during her dissertation defense.
Caitlin Kirby had to defend her research to receive her doctorate at Michigan State University (MSU). It was the last test she needed to do to pass the earth and environmental sciences course.
Posted the photo of her skirt
She posted a photo on Twitter, showing her skirt made of the letters from various rejections. It was when she had passed her course in Ph.D. The photo has already garnered 23,000 likes.
Alongside the photo, Kirby wrote that she had successfully defended her dissertation that day. She noted that she used rejection letters to acknowledge and normalize failure in the process. She folded 17 rejection letters into fans then connected them to form a skirt. They were letters from scholarships, conferences, and academic journals.
Remind her what it takes to succeed
The student told the Lansing State Journal that she had leftover letters after making the skirt. She also said she wanted to wear the skirt to remind her what it takes to succeed. She believes that getting rejections along the way is a natural part of the process.
After she revisited the old rejection letters, Kirby said that she is reminded that she has to apply to a lot of things to succeed. She also discussed how important it is to normalize rejection. It was a topic she, her advisor, and her colleagues discussed during the course.
Defended my dissertation & went viral with my rejection skirt one year ago! Career-wise this year I had many more rejections, but also completed a (mostly virtual) Fulbright & started a post-doc. I'm glad people appreciated my creative representation of failure & persistence. https://t.co/Meuosmy8Ot — Caitlin K. Kirby, PhD (@kirbycai) October 7, 2020
Wanted it to be part of the final test
Kirby told the outlet that while it seems counterintuitive to wear your rejections in your last Ph.D. test, she wanted it to be part of the final test because they have talked about rejections each week.
Julie Libarkin, Kirby's MSU professor and advisor, said that her student's rejections had helped her achieve significant accomplishments. Kirby also received a grant through the Fulbright Program after passing her Ph.D. course.
Libarkin said that it was possible because Kirby's proposals had improved after each rejection she had received. People have praised the 29-year-old's positive and inspirational attitude about rejection.
One commenter congratulated her and added that he was glad to see Kirby's post because he, too, was undergoing some difficult rejection lately. Another one wrote that what Kirby did was an awesome way to defy failure.
The 29-year-old student told "The Independent" that she did not imagine how people would react to her post. She found out that being open and comfortable with rejection has helped many people in many ways.
She believes that having received rejection letters has helped her receive future rejections with a little more levity.
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