Frequently Asked Questions
Kenya, how long have you been doing what you do, and how did you become a writing coach?
To answer this question, it’s probably best that I share my story with you and the moment that brought me to where I am today – coaching people like you on exactly what to do to successfully finish their dissertations, thesis and articles to become leaders in the academic world.
I like to tell the people I know, “I have lived 1,000 lives” because my path has so many twists and turns. My love of writing started at ten years old. My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Riley, gave an assignment to write a different ending to a popular story. I started writing - and never stopped. As I kid, I wrote endless short stories for myself and for my friends. On top of that, I was always helping others bring their ideas to life in words and stories. It just came naturally.
In my bones, I knew I was going to be a writer. But in high school and at my first college, my English teachers rejected everything I wrote, often to the protests of my classmates. They suggested I give up writing and become an elementary school teacher. Discouraged, I switched my major to psychology, where the professors praised my writing and research talents.
I still felt like I needed to get out. Back then, I lived in the rural south and opioids were a silent crisis. At that time, I witnessed a lot of people get into heroin. After my high school best friend died from heroin, I knew I couldn't let that be my destiny. It was time to make my dream happen.
Since childhood, New York City called to me - but my family wouldn't hear of it. In 2001, the whispers of New York City won - I dropped out of school and ran away from the drugs and disappointment to the big city.
I loved the idea of being a full-time writer, but I knew it wasn't going to happen in Virginia. That said, living in New York City wasn’t a walk in the park either. Living conditions in NYC were harsh. I was homeless, I lived through September 11th. I worked at a spa with a jerk boss. I DJed and performed, then I cleaned homes and babysat to get by. As bad as my living conditions were in New York, through it all, I kept writing.
All I can say is urban angels were on my side. The New Yorkers I met saw my talents and helped me stabilize my life. I kept going on a humble path until one of my closest friends dragged me to school with her. It was the City College of New York, the working man's Columbia University, alma mater to people like Colin Powell. She encouraged me to do well. Even though I had a bad experience with school before, I tried again and loved it! With her and many professors’ support, I won fellowships, scholarships, and travelled abroad to Cambridge, England, and Mali, West Africa.
After that wonderful learning experience, I was admitted to Harvard School of Education's Master's program, and the University of California, Davis Ph.D. in Education program. I attended both, digging deep into writing pedagogy, learning from the masters, and creating master teacher techniques of my own. It wasn’t a cake walk - I dealt with all the tribulations many grad students face, plus some. But I made it.
Fast forward to 2016 - I was married with a daughter. I was an English professor, teaching about 120 students a semester, while I worked with other professionals to finish their dissertations, papers and articles. Sounds great right? Not really. I was MISERABLE. I've always had an invisible disability - scoliosis that transformed into painful sciatica after I had hernia surgery in 2015. My requests to the "higher ups" to be accommodated so I could better serve my students went rejected multiple times. The internal politics, administration and bureaucracy were intolerable. The environment was just as unfriendly, unsupportive and unhealthy as those early days back in college. I was the person on the outside. And I had to leave. Again.
All the while, I kept asking myself, “How did my life end up like this?! How will I ever do what I love - to support diverse academics and researchers through writing? How can I help them get their gifts out into the world?”
I was helping out another great friend with her research when she gave me the answer. She knew all about my struggles and just wanted to see me get back on the horse. She asked, "Have you ever thought about becoming a writing consultant? You're helping people all the time.Your teaching is valuable to a lot of people."
I immediately took her advice. I decided right then and there that I was going to keep teaching no matter what.
Since then, I've been working hard to support scholars from underrepresented groups, scholars like me, with their research and writing. I created The Done Dissertation programs, website and group as essential tools for graduate students who want to finish their dissertations, articles, theses, and prospectus with sophistication, speed, and joy. I publish articles on improving underrepresented student writing. I consult and partner with institutions to ensure graduate students reach matriculation at higher rates. I'm delivering high-quality teaching because I'm focusing on twenty students at a time, not 120.
I have way more time to take care of my health and my family now. Most importantly, I've watched my clients move from blank pages, scattered notes, and frustration, to completing graduate school applications, dissertations, and publishable pieces as a result of my research-based techniques. Seeing that transformation in their lives gives me so much joy!
Who are your clients?
I work with clients just like you who are teachable, dedicated, and poised to be leaders in their discipline. My clients are:
From underrepresented communities.
The first in their families to go to graduate school.
Academics with special needs.
Academics who have always struggled with writing.
Academics who speak English as a second language.
Accredited universities and colleges.
What makes you different from other writing coaches?
The biggest thing that differentiates me from many other writing coaches is I have consistently researched and applied writing techniques for academics from diverse backgrounds throughout my career, so I know the conventional advice that focuses on time management simply isn't helpful. Instead, I teach the rhetorical moves, the building blocks of each portion of your dissertation or article, and how to execute them in your writing. I will make sure you finish whatever project you start - I know every writing block and how to work around them. I will also help you build your writing skill so you can walk away with tangible skills that can be applied to your future academic pieces. I also teach academics how to translate their discipline-specific language to plain speech, so they can publish in more mainstream venues. In short, you get insider knowledge from a master writer. Check out my CV so you can see what I mean. It doesn't get much better than that!
What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?
The Done Dissertation workshops, products and programs were created for academics who are laser-focused on publishing research that will impact the world at large. My clients are up and coming professors, scientists, and institutional leaders. These programs were created to help researchers create systems around their writing that promote expeditious, effective, joyful work that is balanced with a full, healthy life. No academic burnout here! I expect my clients to work consistently, put in time at their desks, meet their deadlines, and table excuses to create that balance.
What type of people are NOT a good fit for your program?
I cherry-pick my clients, sometimes gently turning away people who aren’t suited for my programs and won’t get the results they would have signed up for. It simply wouldn’t be fair to them.
The Done Dissertation: Get Results, Get to Graduation and Get a Jump Start on Your Career programs are NOT for those who:
Are looking to only write an hour or two a week.
See finishing graduate work just as a hoop to jump through to make more money.
Who just want their grammar proofread, but not have their ideas interrogated.
Have trouble meeting their deadlines.
Think they know everything already.
Want someone to write their dissertation for them (Yes! These people exist!).
Want a free ride.
Mathematicians. I respect your work, but I just don''t know how to do math proofs! It's Greek to me! Sorry!
The programs I've created highlight the fact that academic research is a continuous journey, which starts, not ends, with the dissertation. The most successful clients know that already and are immediately prepared to walk with me on this learning journey.
If you fall within any of those mindsets (except for mathematicians!), don't worry! We've all been there! Here's what you can do to move beyond them:
Join my exclusive Facebook group here.
Revisit the initial reasons why you enrolled in graduate school to revitalize your enthusiasm for your work and your discipline.
Ask yourself how your life will transform if you finish quickly.
Write out your needs, concerns and questions, then post them in the group so I can give you feedback.
Prepare yourself mentally to write and get finished within the next year. It's your time! If you need help visualizing, please use this guided meditation to get you started.
How can I see what it’s like to work with you?
Go to the Client Testimonials page and read all of them. See which ones you feel drawn to, either because the person has gotten the results you want to get too, or perhaps because that person is in a similar situation.
How quickly can I expect results?
That depends on how quickly you can write, how much time you have to dedicate to your project, and how well you meet your own deadlines. Some clients are prepared to complete their entire project by the end of the program. Others may only complete a few chapters or sections. It all depends on how quickly you write and how much time you have available to put into your writing.
How can I guarantee I will get results in record time?
Do all of your homework. Make sure you implement the plan we create immediately. Understand that this is a process, a proven one, that works if you take action and implement all of the steps. All of my clients who have used The Done Dissertation System have successfully completed their graduate applications, theses, dissertations and articles in much less time than they would have alone, AND have moved on to top-notch schools and lucrative positions they only dreamed about before.
Will I recover the investment I put into this coaching program?
Yes! You most definitely will! My clients are excited to report they received fellowships and lucrative positions after working with me. I want you to stop and take a moment to ask yourself, "What is finishing this project worth to me? What will I gain if I finish right now?" It has been proven time and time again that individuals who finish their graduate degrees make more money than those with just a bachelors over the lifetime of their careers. Most likely, you'll begin to earn higher wages faster than you could have on your own after finishing The Done Dissertation. Expect to get a lot of answers, motivation, tools, templates, resources, and systems that you won't get anywhere else. That's what you're investing in, results, strategies, and confidence, not just “"more information."
Kenya, based on everything I’ve read and heard about you, I know you’re the person I want to learn from. What are my options for getting started with you?
Congratulations on making a decision for success! I am happy to work with you on your academic goals. The best way to work with me is through the one of the The Done Dissertation programs. Here are some of the results you can expect:
Enjoy more free time with friends and family.
Get free from anxiety and stress.
Balance your work and your life.
Gain confidence in your work.
Rapidly move forward in your career.
Build your writing skills.
Grow your research acumen.
Deepen your academic sophistication.
Ok, I’m ready to do this for myself, but I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?
Sure! It sounds like you’re ready to step into your future! Yes, if you have a couple of questions, schedule a call with me and I will be happy to walk you through the different options to see which one will be the very best for you. I can't wait to see you succeed and am honored to help you. Let's get going!
Dr. Kenya Mitchell
Masters of Education, Language and Literacy, Harvard School of Education
Ph. D., Writing, Rhetoric and Composition, University of California, Davis