Sunday, October 1, 2023
Speak Your MindReal impact over long resumes

Real impact over long resumes

The title ‘Dr.’ carries a certain aura in our society, especially for those with a PhD in non-medical fields. But for many PhD holders, the respect that comes with ‘Dr.’ risks becoming an end in itself rather than a means to make a difference. While earning a PhD takes determination and intelligence, the reverence we give PhD holders often exceeds what the degree itself merits.

The title alone seems to bestow expertise, importance and wisdom, regardless of a person’s actual contributions beyond studying for their doctorate. In reality, the most worthy of respect may be those who apply knowledge, not just acquire it, and use their talents to leave a meaningful legacy that benefits many.

I believe the title ‘Dr.’ is overrated and comes with undeserved reverence in our society.  As soon as you hear the title ‘Dr.’ preceding someone’s name, you view them differently. An ordinary person suddenly seems knowledgeable just because they have a PhD. We tend to give more weight to what PhD holders say, even if their claims are not necessarily backed by their expertise.

In my observations, omitting the title when referring to a PhD holder is seen as disrespectful, especially among Asians and Africans. PhD holders expect to be addressed as ‘Dr.’, and people refer to them as such to avoid offense. In our country, people are often known simply as ‘Dr.’, their actual first name forgotten. It’s like their name no longer matters. The title alone has become their identity.

While PhD holders deserve respect for their hard work, the reverence often goes beyond what the degree itself merits. The title and income from a PhD may be seen as enough achievement, discouraging PhD holders from doing more meaningful work.

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This week, many universities graduated students. I also realized honorary doctorates were awarded to accomplished people for lifetime achievements, though not necessarily academic. This got me thinking: Which doctorate deserves higher respect in our country—one earned through four years of study, or one for lifetime achievement?

For me, respect should go to those who contribute to society, leave a tangible legacy that will benefit future generations. Some PhD holders have certainly done this for their country. But thousands more achieve little beyond earning the degree and income.

Honorary doctorates signal visible, tangible contributions to one’s community. For these people, their lifetime achievements precede the title ‘Dr.’ The latter has become more of an achievement in itself rather than a sign of substantial knowledge and impact.

True knowledge comes from applying our learning to make the world better in some way. The most deserving doctorates may be those given not for years spent studying, but for a lifetime spent serving. Honoring people for tangible contributions, not just academic excellence, reminds us all what real wisdom looks like. Our highest respect should go not to those with the longest resumes, but to those who make the largest difference.

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