Caitlin Kirby has faced rejection head-on. The MSU doctoral student has actually learned to embrace rejection. In fact, the skirt she wore while defending her dissertation was made from rejection letters she has received.

Kirby tells the Lansing State Journal that she used 17 rejection letters that she received from scholarships, conferences, and academic journals. She was wearing her failures and it was cathartic.

“The whole process of revisiting those old letters and making that skirt sort of reminded me that you have to apply to a lot of things to succeed,” she said. “A natural part of the process is to get rejected along the way.”

The handmade, knee-length garment communicated what her presentation didn't. It had been a grueling, bumpy five-year journey to get her to that day.

"I wanted something in my presentation that shows that really isn't how it goes. There are a lot of roadblocks along the way."

Committee members to whom she was presenting and her professors chuckled at her bravery.

Kirby was grateful that the attire had been well received, and more grateful that her dissertation was accepted by the committee.