Today one of my students passed his quals. It was great. He is the first student from my group to do so. (Well, one of my students from another department has done his already, but in that department, the quals come much earlier, so it is not really equivalent.)
My student did a really excellent job. First, he developed his presentation on his own. Then we had a group meeting where the whole group gave feedback. I was very proud of everyone — they gave him excellent comments on everything from slide layout and ordering to deep questions about the motivation of the research. I felt like my training had really paid off. Based on the feedback, my student totally revamped and reorganized the presentation and did a fantastic job in the actual exam. It was well-organized, targeted, and thorough. And he answered every single question he got with a thoughtful and knowledgeable answer. I was really proud to see what a mature scientist he has turned into. Pretty soon he will not need me at all, anymore.
Later in the day, another one of my students came to meet with me about his research. He has been doing some great stuff on his own that builds on experience he had from his masters, and lies outside my main expertise. I was really impressed with his initiative and enthusiasm. This is also a success story: this student was not very motivated a year or so back and progress was slow. He has totally turned around and is becoming extremely creative and productive. In this case the secret was this: "when exactly do you want to graduate? Because you need X more papers." He totally got it, and has taken off like wildfire. Yay.