It’s Dr. Jairo now!

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Travel

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), it’s been a challenging road, but he did it! The ceremonial defence was on 3 February. Curious what a day like this looks like? Read it here! 

7 years of hard work come to an end 

Jairo has been working hard on his PhD research for a little more than 7 years. He never gave up on himself and kept on writing and publishing. I read that only 5% of the PhD candidates finish within the given 4 years, just to give an idea of how hard it actually is to do a PhD. His research was about design systems for sustainable products in low-income markets. For most of our relationship I never fully understood what he was doing, just because it’s so much jargon and academic thinking.  

After so much years, it’s almost strange that the defence day finally arrived. It’s been a part of our relationship from the beginning, it was a journey not only he went through, because we shared all the highs and lows. 

Getting suited up. 

We woke up at 07:00 to slowly wake up and have breakfast with strong coffee for an extra push of energy. Jairo did some yoga to calm his nerves. He looked surprisingly calm and confident. He felt ready to defend what he has been working on for all those years. The only thing he was still struggling with were the titles of all the committee members. He had to say their titles in Dutch, for example, “hooggeleerde opponent, zeergeleerde opponent”. All those ‘G’s’ and ‘R’s’ can be a struggle. On the way to the tailor, we were non stop practising all the titles. 

The real fun started when we were at the tailor. It became so official when you have the get into the ‘penguin suit’. Jairo looked amazing in his suit. His two paranymphs Eduardo and Marcello had to wear the same suit, which made the whole the thing very wedding-like. Still no nerves! 


Before the actual defence, he gave a short presentation for non-academical audience. My family and some of his friends were present. I could see that everyone was super interested in what he was saying, because now we all could finally understand what he has been working for all those years. Jairo was very relaxed and I could see he felt comfortable. I knew he was a good teacher, but seeing him standing there was an extra sign he chose the right profession. When his presentation was finished, he sat down I the nerves came. He knew the defence would start in a few minutes. 

The defence

The defence always takes one hour and starts with the questions of the opponents. You know that all the questions are gonna be challenging and tricky. All the committee members are enjoying this whole ‘let-him-suffer-a-little-before-he-receives-diploma’ defence. I can’t blame them, they have been in the same position and had the defend their life’s work just as hard. Even though Jairo was nervous at some moments, his answers were always clear and to the satisfaction of the committee members. After an hour, it was done! CRAZYYYYYY! Jairo cried of relieve. He received his diploma and his supervisor gave a great speech that made all of us laugh. 

After receiving the diploma we had a small reception. Jairo had a tough start in life and had to work hard to get things done and be assertive because nothing was handed to him on a silver platter. 10 years ago he came in contact with Aguinaldo, a professor that took Jairo under his wings. He helped Jairo to get a scholarship to go to TuDelft and get a PhD in design. The most memorable moment during his thesis defence was the moment that Aguinaldo and Jairo hugged and were crying (which made me cry). Aguinaldo was one of the opponent committee members and he looked like a proud dad. He called Jairo “the brightest student” he ever had. Knowing that Jairo had to work so hard to get to the top, it’s even more impressive everyone can call him Dr Jairo now!!

Dinner for 21 

After all this excitement we went for a dinner at a wok restaurant with 21 people: friends, family and the committee members. It was an amazing ending to a beautiful day. I could see Jairo was smiling the whole night. He deserved all of this and more. Next step? We go to Brazil and he might start working with Aguinaldo again! 


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